Column: Traveling can be an enriching experience

In Opinion
A blue passenger plane flies over a green planet carrying a wide-eyed traveler to a new destination.
(Yongyi Chen / Daily Titan)

There is nothing in the world that I feel more passionate about than traveling; it is a need that fuels me. I am inclined to see the world, intrigued by its beauty and mystified by the wonders that it holds.  

Whether you are traveling to the other side of the world, or to another part of your state, going somewhere you have never been before is a life-altering experience. Traveling opens your eyes to the world around you and gives you the opportunity to learn about a new place, culture or food.

Every time I step off a plane, the first thing I do is feel the air. Every place has unique air, unique scents, unique feelings and the way your skin reacts changes depending on the climate you find yourself in.

On a recent trip, I went to Europe with a group, taking a bus tour through France, Portugal and Spain. On the way we stopped in a few cities and towns — one of which was Santiago de Compostela.

Traveling can be difficult and scary, or it can be the most fluid thing in the world. Not speaking the local language, or not being familiar with the roads can be intimidating. Having a hard time doing things that we normally take for granted like reading a menu or ordering a cup of coffee can be a challenge when you don’t know the native tongue.

As the bus came to a stop, some people got off. After a short discussion with my group, I thought we had decided to all get off the bus and explore the city of Santiago de Compostela, so I got off and walked a few yards away from the bus. When I looked back, no one else had gotten off and I watched the bus drive off into the distance.

I was alone in a country I had never been to before, and in a place where I didn’t know a single soul.  

Yet, somehow, I wasn’t even a little bit scared.

I was excited by the idea of adventure and looked forward to exploring, even if it meant endless walking. I ended up walking to my hotel, which was about four miles away from the town square where I had been dropped off.

I didn’t want to be picked up, or for anyone to come find me. Instead, I just wanted to take in the beauty and architecture of an ancient town in the middle of Spain. I stopped to shop and eventually sat outside a cafe after buying a cappuccino with a churro, watching as people drove by on their scooters and bikes.

Nothing is better than the first impression of a new place, the first time you see the city lights or the first time you run into a local. Learning about the history, the culture and the tendencies of a place that you have never been before but someone else calls home is one of the most beautiful experiences in the world.

Of all the time I spent in Europe and all the experiences I had on that trip, the thing I remember the most is that walk back to my hotel. It allowed me to think, observe and understand a place that I admire, and it gave me a sense of adventure I had never felt before.

Traveling is good for your body and soul. It gives you the opportunity to experience how someone else, from somewhere else, lives. Experiences and struggles like not being able to comfortably communicate, though frustrating, can help you learn about yourself. Travelling allows you to develop a better understanding of what type of learner you are, or begin to notice how patient—or impatient you are.

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