I was fortunate to have grown up in Japan, and I am so grateful for that experience. Because I was only five when we moved there as a family, I did not experience culture shock to the same extent that someone more set in their ways might have. The greater shock was returning to Canada when I was 13-years-old. Despite having been born in Camrose, Alberta, I was confused and intimidated by this strange place.
While in Japan, I also had the chance to experience the Philippines as well as Malaysia. In addition, I have been to places like Korea, Thailand, Mexico, and Hawaii. I know plenty of people who have traveled more than I have, though I know very few people who actually grew up in the Japanese public school system.
Either way, I consider myself very fortunate for the experience; even though there were definitely some challenges. From my vantage point, the following six reasons are good reasons to travel, and even live in countries you’ve never been to ebefore.
1. It Will Broaden Your Perspective
I have met many people that have never been very far outside of their own hometown. Thus, they don’t even know that there are many friendly and wonderful places to visit across the world. As result, they also have a limited perspective and frame of reference.
Your perspective changes when you see the poor and the hungry. Your perspective changes when you see how other people live in different parts of the world. Your perspective changes when you see the values that many people live out every single day and how they differ from your own.
You can’t know the impact this can have on you unless you’ve experienced it.
2. You Will Learn New Things
Even if you were tossed into a part of the world you knew nothing about, without a book, a guide, or the internet, you would still learn new things just by being there.
Some of them might be tangible, while others would be less so. You may learn a city’s name or the country’s population. On the other hand, you might observe differences in tradition, values and thought processes. This will inevitably challenge your own preconceived ideas. You may even pick up some of the local tongue.
Whatever the case, you will come away with a wealth of new knowledge and experiences.
3. You Will Appreciate More
When you see how other people live, you will likely learn to appreciate your own lifestyle more.
This doesn’t just happen when you see others that are worse off. Different countries are in different climates, and people generally live in different conditions with different provisions and conveniences. They may eat different things. Their recreational activities may challenge your notion of fun.
This isn’t about comparison, as in “I’m so lucky, because I would never want to live that way.” It’s more a sense of gratitude, as in “I’m glad to have been brought up the way I was.”
4. You Will Return a Different Person
The irony of this statement is that no matter where you go, you will still take yourself with you. This can be a tough pill to swallow if you travel expecting that somehow your physical circumstances will fundamentally change who you are.
However, even if you just go on a two-week trip, you won’t come back exactly the same person. You will feel different. You will look at things differently. Your habits will have been dismantled, to a degree, and you will have a new renewed opportunity to change your routine if you so desires.
This is why it’s beneficial to “get away” at times. However, it should not be confused for running away.
5. You Will Become a Better-Rounded Person
There is a significant difference between Japanese and Chinese. Lifestyle in a third world country is different than that of life in North America.
When you speak of these things as though you know about them, but you don’t, you will appear ignorant before those who are more cultured.
If you are going to talk about the world, you may as well talk about it from a place of personal experience. What you don’t know, you don’t know.
6. You Will Become a More Understanding Person
If you’re going to travel anyway, wouldn’t you like to be better for the experience? We all want to be better people, and yet when it comes time to do the hard work to change, many of us run. I am guilty of this too.
Understanding is not about tolerance; it’s about acceptance. Tolerance, to me, is bordering on the line of neutral and negative. Acceptance is crossing the line over to the positive. When you allow others and their traditions, you are giving yourself permission to love the world. You are giving the world permission to love you back.
Becoming a more understanding person is growth. When you are willing to let yourself understand, you are opening up to new people and new experiences.