What I learned from traveling the world

Posted on 07 December 2016 by Ian Schrauth

Traveling enables different perspectives and fosters solidarity

 

By: Andrew Ameer
Opinions Editor

 

passportsI’ve been traveling for almost as long as I can remember.

I took my first cross country road trip when I was 7 or 8 years old, about 16 years ago from Saint Louis, Mo.

to southern California and eventually into Mexico.

Throughout my childhood I’ve traveled, and seeing new places, experiencing different perspectives and learning different ways of doing things are like second nature to me.

When I was 12 years old, I traveled overseas to eastern Africa.

I spent more than a year in the countries of Tanzania and Malawi, during which I learned to appreciate the creature comforts I took for granted here in the United States.

Things like clear running water, reliable electricity and a supermarket with a ridiculous selection of things to purchase that came standard in my home town of Saint Louis, Mo.

were hard to come by in Njombe, Tanzania.

The water did not run all the time, and when it did it was a rich red color from the clay in which the pipes were laid.

The electricity in the village I lived in was operational for about 30 percent of the time.

But this did not phase the residents who had lived there for their entire lives, and over time, as it grew to be the norm for me, I learned to adapt and it no longer affected me either.

During my time overseas, I adopted a great resilience to adversity that I took back with me to the US.

It’s probably the single most significant thing I’ve gained during my travels.

Seeing how other people in different cultures and countries adapt to hardship and change brought great perspective to my own life and how I reacted to moments of adversity.

On my way back to the US in 2007, during a layover in Amsterdam I remember being amazed and somewhat disoriented at little things like automatic sliding doors and escalators, not to mention the freezing climate which was much appreciated after more than a year in a climate that did not often get below 80 degrees and was often higher.

When I got back to the US I found that life’s little problems no longer bothered me as much, after experiencing life abroad for more than a year.

But aside from learning about how great it is to have electricity that is on and operational for 99 percent of time, what I like most about traveling is that it gives the opportunity to see the many differences between ourselves and the rest of the world, and ultimately, how similar we are.

People all over the world generally want the same things out of life: food, security for themselves and their loved ones and a place to call home, and the day-to-day activities of life reflect this, wherever we are.

Traveling has expanded my own personal perspective on so many things in my own life, and overall it is a tremendously positive experience.

When I’m feeling stressed out as a student, or at other situations in my life, I think of the bigger picture and about how across the world, across the many different cultures and societies, there are students and people going through many of the exact same situations and hardships that I am going through, and for me, the feeling I get is that of solidarity and it brings great comfort.

 

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