We are pleased to present our scholarship winner’s essay:
Why travel is important
by Daniela Mata
Texas A&M International University
In our modernized world, today’s youth is pressured into planning our lives down to the minute detail when, in fact, we haven’t even experienced life at all. Nowadays, people of all ages are being engrossed by technology and the same daily routine. Living day-in and day-out does not allow us to learn, change and grow into the individuals we wish to become. It is nearly impossible to reach our full potential if we are stagnant about every aspect of our lives. Life doesn’t begin until we exit our comfort zone; and to get out of our comfort zone, traveling is the most transcendent and honestly, the most enjoyable option.
Traveling has become my passion since the first time I went abroad in June 2015. When my feet finally touched European ground (outside the airport) my heart instantly felt lighter. I was no longer a cloud trying to be pinned down. Beaming with joy, all I wanted to do was run around and run up to everybody to give them a hug. I had no idea where I was, who anybody was and they didn’t know who I was; I loved it! It was then that I realized I was finally out of my comfort zone and it never felt so rewarding.
Most people have already established a safety net at home with family, friends, activities, and jobs. We become so accustomed to our daily roles, that doing anything outside of that sounds uncomfortable and scary. The issue is, we do most of our learning in uncomfortable and unfamiliar situations. When it comes to our daily routines, we already know how to act, where to go and how to respond to our surroundings. By traveling, you place yourself in an unknown territory with new people who hold different values and lives (or as you’ll see, not so different) than yours, shreds all that familiarity away. It can be nerve-racking but traveling lets us glance into the lives of a million others and allows us to gain cultural perspective. Once you discover that you can connect with people despite the difference of backgrounds, you can navigate foreign grounds. So embrace the discomfort. Seek for it, because this is what fundamentally transforms you into a more experienced and competent individual.
The incredible part about traveling is that you don’t have to do it for long time frames to experience something new. One day in an unseen world will show you things that you didn’t even know existed or could even happen. Witnessing the world administers an education that is impossible to obtain in school. Traveling teaches you geography, politics, sociology, economy, and history in a hands-on way no course ever will. Humans are social creatures, we thrive on interactions, socially or non. Whether it be having a catch-up coffee with a friend, or sitting anywhere to observe the hundreds of people walking by. Being interactive with people of different origins, makes you culturally sensitive and opens you heart and mind. In our globalizing world, it is key to be culturally sensitive. It is no longer enough to say, “people from X country behave like this.” We must understand the underlying mentality that takes place with certain behavior. Being apprehensive of cultural values and norms is fascinating and can help us understand international issues and conflicts. It is a vital skill to be able to transition perspectives and see where the other person is coming from. Cultural sensitivity helps with your communication on both business and personal levels.
By separating yourself from your daily life, unplugging from the pulls of technology and partaking in new activities in new places, you have an easier opportunity to let go of unwanted habits. Going somewhere where no one knows your past, reinforces a willingness to widen your horizons, to get unstuck and to move in new, life-fulfilling directions. Give yourself the opportunity to reflect on where you’ve been, where you’re going and where you want to end up. Go travel and find the new and improved you.