Travelling: An Essential Part of Education

Prasanth Aby Thomas
Published: September 2013

Among the endless information available online, an often accessed kind is ‘how to’ advice. A lot of them are insignificantly common sense, some deviously misleading and a few others genuinely helpful.

Recently I came across a blog that gave tips to enjoy college life most. Most of the points were common sense, but one part struck me most. It was suggested that students should look to travel a lot during their education years, which would help to broaden their environments, and indeed help to facilitate holistic learning.

I had to pause for a second to reflect how underrated travel is in our culture.  Even if one is living in the most happening city in the world and have a colourful social and professional life, nothing can be put in place of going to different places and indulging in novel experiences.

Travelling often opens our eyes to how different and diverse this world is, and yet how same human beings everywhere are. It helps us appreciate our lives, encourages us to improve ourselves and most importantly helps us to look at the world and life from multiple perspectives.

GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Travelling to a new place often requires people to get out of their comfort zone. This is often difficult for many people. But that is precisely the reason it is a rewarding activity. In fact, often when you get out of your comfort zone you get to know your own qualities more and understand your passions better.

But when I say travel, I don’t mean you should pack your bags and book the next holiday package you see online. Packaged holidays would never be yours, since they are planned by someone else and includes mostly their interests.

Hence, it would be better if you go through the inconvenience of planning your own trip. An interesting thing you would notice is that starting from the destination you chose, to the accommodation you prefer and the food you want to eat, there would be a pattern emerging.  It would, to a large extent, be useful if you can try not to stick to familiarity during your trip.

For example, instead of searching for food that you are comfortable with, give the local cuisine a try. You may or may not like it, but at the end of the day you will never regret it.

CULTURAL EXCHANGE

Culture is said to be the totality of life. A funny thing about culture is that one who has lived in a place all his life would not know that a lot of things that he believed in or was used to may not be acceptable in another culture. In fact, many people are not even aware that there are different cultures in this world.

Even today’s high speed internet connections and satellite television have only managed to showcase a singular western culture, which has largely swallowed myriad other culture clusters.

Travelling would allow one to get first-hand experience of a different culture. This would be in the form of language, customs, traditions or even food and dressing. Regardless of what the difference, experiencing diversity would help healthy comparison and a vision towards mutual improvement.

KNOWLEDGE IS STILL POWER

The advent of the internet has made it easy for us to access information. Today, anything you want to know is at your fingertips – from Wikipedia to Google maps, applications are ready to help you know something.

However, there are still some things we cannot know by searching online. Perhaps the biggest failure of online information transfer is that it has taken away the subjectivity of experience.  Data is either objective, or at the most, someone else’s perspective. It is impossible for you to get your subjective perspective unless there is direct contact.

LEARNING NEW LANGUAGES

It is said that a person who speaks more than one language is able to think from more than one perspective. I would endorse this thought as language can often be seen as a carrier of culture and the language of a region encapsulates its wisdom.

Moreover, from a professional perspective, knowing different languages can be helpful in interacting and doing business with people of different backgrounds. Many people would be surprised to know that English is not the official language for many companies in the world. In fact, if you travel to places like China or Japan, the language is strictly local and it would be very difficult to operate if you don’t speak it.

TRAVELLING DURING COLLEGE DAYS

Thus I come back to the initial point – travelling during college days. The education period is significant here, since it is a time that a lot of convictions start to solidify in our minds. At this stage, a wider perspective would help to open up the canvas and help to shape your personal and professional life better.

Travelling during college days also gives us countless memories that will last a lifetime. In fact, for most people, the most beautiful time of their lives was college days and the trips they made with their friends.  It could be said that our energy and enthusiasm is highest at this stage and travelling would help us channel this in the right direction.

In many Western countries, students are encouraged to off as an exchange student to a different country. Sometimes students take up volunteering works on their own during summer vacation. Of course as students, the expense of travelling may seem daunting and hence it is important to plan in advance and make it as economical as possible.

Back pack travelling, as it is often called, is a style that is ideal for students. Being part of youth hostel organizations will also be helpful to find safe, convenient and affordable accommodation.  Needless to say safety should be a primary concern while travelling, and all planning should be made keeping this in mind.

As St. Augustine said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” Let us try to finish the book as much as possible!