How many times have you found yourself struggling to read out of a textbook, falling asleep to a PowerPoint, or blanking out during an important lecture? Imagine yourself instead absorbing the history as you stroll down the streets of Paris, experiencing the struggles of poverty in a remote Ethiopian village, or trekking through vegetation and wildlife in the Amazon. Our education in its entirety is most often experienced in a classroom, even though it fails to compare to the knowledge that can be gained through exploring the world. Travel is beneficial to our education because it immerses you in diverse cultures, it expands language capabilities, and it allows you to grow as a person.
Even the most well-read people fail to understand certain aspects of culture, and it is because they are missing one important thing: experience. While you can read up about specialty foods, architecture, and history all you want, the only way to truly experience culture is in person. Things like manners, lifestyle, and social expectations can be taught only through experiencing it with the locals. Furthermore, one can learn to analyse their surroundings by comparing said details to their native culture. Cultural differences can be found in everything from cuisine to etiquette, and it is vital to ones education to learn to embrace these aspects with an open mind. On the other hand, breaking down the barriers of cultural diversity by exploring cultural similarities is just as important. Perhaps you and the locals share a love of art, or you have aligning moral values. Developing the ability to relate with a certain culture by finding similar habits, values, and interests can further your understanding of an otherwise foreign lifestyle. The life altering experience gained from travel clearly proves that it is essential to our cultural education.
Not only will travel further your understanding of the world, but it will aid with interacting with it as well. Language is yet another aspect of our education that can only be taught to an extent. If you have previously studied a certain language and are struggling with accent and fluency, immersing yourself in conversations with native speakers is really the only way to improve. After all, practice really does make perfect. You will also be amazed with the many complex languages you will be introduced to and will unknowingly pick up. You are most likely not going to return fluent, but witnessing conversation and learning the basics will give you an advantageous start that non-travelers fail to acquire. While learning a new language is still efficient through a textbook, it doesn’t compare to the knowledge that will be earned through the natural use of it in its native land.
A lesser known benefit of travel is that it will allow you to grow as a person. Independence actually happens to be a fundamental goal of many education systems, yet unsurprisingly it is best developed through travel. What else will teach you to care for yourself, conquer unexpected dilemmas, and remain calm in chaotic situations better than being forced to out of the lack of an alternative? What’s more, travel will humble you as a person. Most are aware of the families that go hungry, the children that lack an education, and the life-threatening disease that breaks out across poverty stricken villages, but it is next to impossible to truly comprehend worldly issues without seeing and experiencing them head on. Travel will teach you to sympathize and help those that are in need; travel will remind you to be grateful of your own generous living conditions back home. Lastly, travel will teach you about yourself. Many people view travel as a sort of “spiritual journey” to figure out who you are, and who you aspire to be; they say there is no better way to do this than to experience life abroad. Volunteering at a wildlife conservation initiative in Guatemala, helping to build a school in Africa, even backpacking your way across Europe could aid in your journey of self-discovery. While it may seem like a cliché, experiencing these scenarios abroad will build your character in a way that nothing else can.
While many continue to argue against it, the seemingly never ending educational benefits to travel are difficult to ignore. Travel is beneficial to ones’ education because it allows you to explore different cultures, because it immerses you in language, and because it gives one the opportunity to grow. That said, what’s to stop you from expanding your education abroad?