The ruling voice of the Western World is that you must study hard, go to university, get a good job, take out a mortgage, pay your taxes, plan ahead, get your life together to be sufficiently prepared for life with a partner, children and a healthy pension plan when the time comes.
Travel is seen as a luxury or a distraction which leads you away from this normative path and which delays you from “getting on with your life” as the majority expects you to do. Long-term travel is viewed with a suspicious eye, just like working as an artist always seems to generate questions like, “But what do you do as your real job?”
Foolish questions of this sort get us all riled up at Connecting Worlds. Without a shade of doubt, our dedicated teams is pro-travel in all respects and we belong to the modern school of thought — that travel is so incredibly important, it can even serve as a replacement for traditional forms of education in many ways. Here’s why…
1. Travel is an educational experience which breeds individuals
Conservative educational institutions, by nature, don’t create individuals. They teach to a formula and generate groups of “educated human beings” who enter into the world of work, having “learned” something. When we travel, the role that one plays socially is not up for discussion. It matters little whether you happen to be the manager of a multinational company or if you work in a gas service station.
Who you are in your native country is irrelevant when you travel, which makes it both a unique and enrichening experience. We come into contact with people from all walks of life. You get the chance to relate with others in ways which your daily life doesn’t allow. You’re able to just be yourself and to stop “playing a role.” Travel is an education in how to see the world how we see it and not to see it how others have taught us to do.
2. There’s no quicker form of education than travel
We might be studying towards a degree in Latin American Studies for three years, but after just a few months traveling through Latin American countries — speaking with Latin American people, living in those communities, eating Latin American food, listening to people who were born on the continent and who have lived there for years through all the struggles that we read about in our study books — we can double what we understand from working towards a degree.
3. Hear, live, smell, see and touch: Travel turns theory into practice
When we travel we experience everything through our five senses. School generally forces us to listen or to read. Smell and touch are almost always left out of the conservative educational experience. We almost always read about something in a book or learn about it second-hand from a teacher or an expert.
Travel is live. It’s an educational experience which turns theory into practice. It’s an education which replaces the “talking about” with the “doing.” There’s little doubt that the application of the five senses during a trip across the world is far more enlightening than spending three hours in the confines of a university study hall.
4. The world is full of good people and good deeds
The media feeds off of world problems, controversial issues and bad press. Bad news is worthy news — it’s news which the world, like a leech, sucks on; it’s news which sells. Positive news generates less hype, less concern, less conversation and less interest. The media keeps us fat on negative perceptions and worrying world issues. It only ever shares with us half of the real story.
Travel is the only real form of pure education. It opens our eyes to the truths which the media chooses not to share with us, or which our schools choose not to teach us. If we only ever learn from what our governments force us to learn in school, or what the media chooses to share with us about other countries and cultures, we’re never really learning the full story.
Travel shows us that life in Islamic countries isn’t always violent and war-ridden, that not all Latin Americans dedicate their lives to drug trafficking, that the British aren’t “cold-hearted,” and that women can visit South Africa without fearing rape. The world is full of more love, harmony and understanding than most institutional powers would have us believe and travel is the best form of education to wipe out our misinformed, one-sided perceptions.
5. Travel to unlearn and then re-learn
Travel allows you to unlearn what you have been taught by governing bodies and the media in order to decide what you truly believe. We are highly conditioned and thoroughly institutionalised from a very early age. Most children begin attending nursery at the age of two or three. We begin to learn many things that we are simply told not to do because those who are looking after us have decided that these are the things which must be avoided.
It’s very difficult to stray away from “the norm.” Many adults feel pressured to conform to the systems which control us and it can be difficult to find a way of living the life we please without suffering the consequences of the systematic world around us. Travel is one of the only forms of natural, pure education which gives us the time and space to think, outside of the system, and re-learn to think for ourselves — to re-discover what we truly believe.
6. Travel helps you to develop practical life skills
Travel forces you to make instinctive and quick decisions. You have to respond to situations and be ready to make changes. Travel forces you to adapt and to be more flexible in your approach to life to such an extent that it prepares you for any kind of “change” which might come along and which you might have to confront.
An education in a conservative institution never prepares you for life in the same way that travel does — that kind of travel on the road where you’re not quite sure what might happen next, when you’re visiting places you’ve never been to before and you’re not sure of the protocols ahead of time.
7. Travel highlights similarities, not differences
Without seeing other parts of the world, one can foolishly believe that people from other countries and other cultures are very different and live differently to what we know and experience. Travel highlights important similarities. It reminds us the “human beings” share basic, animal instincts and that we are united by those instincts, despite the “borders” which governments and conquerors before us decided to impose. A map, after all, is just a drawing.
Travel is one of the best educations available to remind us that we all belong to planet Earth and we all suffer from the same basic needs and desires — to have a home in which to live, food to eat, someone to love us and to love in return, and the opportunity to do things during our day that we enjoy.
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