Josh Bolinger: Why Travel is Essential to Learning
Travel is a life-changing experience.
One of the greatest experiences of my life was getting the chance to see the world outside my own little zone of comfort. Experiencing another culture, seeing how the people of other nations lived first-hand and meeting people whose lives were different in so many ways had a very profound impact on me. I learned things on these trips you just can’t learn in a classroom. There are certain skills, experiences and relationships that can’t be taught – they have to be experienced.
In this time of exploding college debt, when students change their major an average of three times before graduation, I feel that people need to take some time to know themselves, and to experience a bit of the world outside their own home base, before assuming a lifetime of debt – often in the tens of thousands of dollars – to pay for a degree that they have no real plan for using. Education is never wasted, of course, but going to college just because you believe it is a necessary step in life, and having no thought beyond that as to why you’re there, can lead folks to make very poor use of their time, and assume more debt than is necessary to help them get ahead in life.
While my opportunity to see and live in other countries was very eye-opening, even traveling to another state within the US can do wonders for perspective. When I relocated from New England to Texas, I certainly had my eyes opened, enlarged my mental map of the world, and broadened my understanding of cultural differences to a great degree.
The best advice I think anyone can give a person just out of high school is to know yourself, and to also know something about the world around you. Enlarge your experience, and know who you are and what you really want out of life. Then you will be able to plan your education from a set of clear goals, and make the most of your time in school.