• John Hasse

How Travel Shapes Students' Lives

Traveling is not just a leisure activity, it is a life-changing experience that makes life worth living. Everybody should travel if they can. In particular, young people with impressionable minds should be encouraged to get out and see as much of the world as possible, as early as possible, as it can open their minds, enrich their personalities and make them more compassionate global citizens.

Traveling can be especially powerful for students, as this provides the opportunity for learning to take place outside of the normal classroom setting. Not only that, but interacting with new cultures, people and places brings about a huge amount of personal development in a variety of ways.

1. Confidence

Traveling, be it on their own or in a group, can give young people a huge confidence boost. Interacting with people who are part of different communities, practice different religions or speak different languages can be difficult. Interacting with new people forces students to become more comfortable with being uncomfortable as they learn to adapt to new social situations. By visiting new places, students are also required to deal with physical uncertainty, as they navigate through unfamiliar streets, transport systems and day-to-day activities, like going to grocery shopping. Once students successfully go through the experience of visiting and enjoying time abroad, they gain the confidence that they can travel anywhere and thrive on their own, with or without family and friends.

2. Independence

There are an incredible number of decisions one needs to make while traveling, most of which require deep thought. The entire travel process, beginning with where to travel to booking flights and accommodations to navigating a new place itself, teaches young students to arrive at the correct decisions even when facing difficult situations. Going abroad, turns young people into independent adults, equipped to handle whatever life throws at them, as they are able to experience what it's like to move through the world self-sufficiently.

3. Self-awareness

Today many people, both young and old, have a limited understanding of who they really are. It's only when we have the opportunity to spend some time alone and put ourselves in unfamiliar situations that we realize what kind of person we really are. Traveling gives students an opportunity not only to see new places outside of their usual day-to-day, but also to look inward and become more aware of themselves, their emotions and their values. By taking time to pause and reflect, students are able to gain a better perspective on who they are, where they come from and what their place in the world allows them to do.

4. Perspective

One of the most important aspects of travel is that it pushes students to think beyond the their ordinary surroundings. By experiencing somewhere new, students are able to expand their understanding of what is beyond their world. While this process can be difficult at first, as it forces students to step out of the comfortable environs of their schools, homes and communities, the experience of interacting with other people, places and cultures outside of their regular sphere can have long-lasting effects on their life paths and their perspective on their role in the world.

5. Tolerance

Traveling often means meeting other people from varied backgrounds, listening to their stories, absorbing their culture, and trying understand different points of view. In a time of such strong social acceptance and appreciation across the country and the world, it is important for students to remain as open as possible. If this doesn't happen, these young people, similar too many in the older generations, will maintain rigid, biased views of how the world works. Visiting new places and seeing how others live can be a transformative experience, as it oftentimes shows young people how all human beings are actually much more similar than different in the end.

6. Develops their personality

Traveling enriches students’ personalities in a way that schools and textbooks cannot. It can be a revolutionary experience in which students gain a new-found self-confidence, as they start making their own decisions about how to spend each day or using the language skills they've developed in the classroom out in the real world. Through the experience of travel, it's not uncommon for a student who is normally shy, wallflower to bloom into a confident social butterfly, making friends wherever they go.

7. Fun

In today's fast-paced and stress-filled world we don’t often consider the importance of having fun. Sometimes we forget that young people need to take a break from the responsibilities of school, family and extra-curriculars to let loose and enjoy themselves. Students need to feel that life is worth living. It doesn't help to something to look forward to after a long semester either. Traveling can be that that "feel good" factor in many young people's lives, as it gives students the chance to enjoy themselves without worrying about anything. Basking in the glow of a warm sunset after a long day of travel can be one of the simplest, most enjoyable feelings out there. Visiting new places can also break the monotony of daily routine and bring an element of adventure and thrill to students' lives. Like they always say, "variety is the spice of life".

8. Humility

Most of all, traveling teaches young students a lesson in humility. It dissolves ego and attitude, as they have to learn to look after themselves, assume some responsibility. and be accountable for their actions. Because travel takes students out of their regular, often comfortable lives, it can be quite humbling. Going from a strong and all-encompassing support system to being on your own, having to look after yourself can be tough, as it exposes how easy and care-free life is for many of our young people. Seeing the living conditions of others who are less fortunate can be an eye-opening experience. Not only this, but, the realization that there is so much in our world to explore, learn and absorb, is itself a humbling experience. Returning home from a trip, students often find that the protective cocoon they grew up in is much smaller than they had originally thought. Learning humility and brining it back home with you from your time away is one of the most powerful reasons to travel.

Our students spend much of their time preparing for life ahead by acquiring skills they think will help them face the hurdles that life throws at them. While education and training are important elements of this preparation, travel should not be overlooked, as it is one of the best ways to help young people become more mindful, resilient and well-rounded individuals.

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