Whenever I tell people about our trip, they tend to have one of two reactions. ??(Interestingly, I think you can tell a lot about their personalities and values by how they react, but that’s not the point.) ??They either smile and exclaim, “That is so cool! ??I wish I could do something like that!” or they glare at me suspiciously and ask why I would want to travel to strange places for a year. ??And that’s a fair question. ??Why do we want to do this? ??I can think of many reasons, so here are my top five:
5. ??To have a good time
Obviously partying isn’t the primary objective of this trip, but I’d by lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to some fun on the road.
4. ??To escape materialism
I realize this makes me sound like I’m wearing a tie-dyed shirt on the bus to Woodstock, but there you have it. ??Americans spend so much time fixating on and worrying about material possessions that they never really stop to enjoy life. ??We slave away at our jobs so we can keep filling our houses up with more stuff that we don’t need. ??I think the only way you can be truly free is by getting rid of all the crap that weighs you down.
3. ??To literally see the world
There’s truth to the clich?? that seeing the world “brings history to life.” ??This is probably the most commonly used phrase in study abroad applications (I’m pretty sure I used it myself). ??Yet experiencing a place first hand is??inexplicably different than reading about it. ??I’m really looking forward to checking out these countries for myself, especially since I think a lot of places get misrepresented in the media. ??Whether it’s for better or for worse, I’m sure we’ll be constantly surprised by what we find abroad.
2. ??To meet interesting people
Ultimately, it all comes down to the people. ??You meet all sorts of characters on the road, both locals and other??travelers. ??Some may annoy you, some interest you, some make you laugh and some might even change how you see the world. ??No matter who they are, they always seem to make you think. ??I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. ??When I think back on the places I’ve been, it’s the people I remember more than anything else.
1. To understand the world
This is probably my ultimate goal in life and I know it’s one I will never achieve, so maybe I should say “gain a deeper understanding of the world.” ??Really all of the reasons mentioned above tie into this one. ??I love learning and the best way to learn is to get away from the familiar and do something new. ??Throw yourself into a new experience and you will come away with a deeper knowledge of it than you ever thought possible. ??I also think you can learn more about yourself by learning about other places and cultures. ??I’m not going on this trip to talk to people and judge their lives and beliefs. ??I just want to try to understand why they live that way and why they believe in those values, which will probably make me wonder the same about myself. ??This self-evaluation as a reaction to new thoughts is probably why so many people claim that travel changes them for the better. ??Even if travel doesn’t change your views, it gives you a more complete understanding of yourself and others.
Sorry to get all philosophical on you.