Travel, learn, reflect, repeat

Google “Things you learn from traveling” and you’ll get millions of results.  The first several pages of these results are those wonderful listicles.

While each of these lists have some overlap, each person’s experience is unique.  When you travel, where you travel, who you travel with, and that the purpose of your trip is will all help form your experience.

In less than a month I will be leading my third study abroad program. Each year I change the program slightly because the social movements in South Africa are changing from year-to-year. One of the key learning experiences for study abroad is stepping outside of one’s comfort zone to experience another culture. Once you realize that culture is like water, then the phrase “fish out of water” takes on a whole new meaning and an almost perfect metaphor for the travel experience.

img_2935I think the most important thing to keep in mind as you travel is to stay present. You will have many uncomfortable moments as you experience a new culture and the challenge is to stay in the moment, realize what you’re experiencing, and if you are lucky why you are experiencing the discomfort. Although, don’t stress if the why comes to you later because we can only process so much at once.

But if you can take time to reflect on your experiences as you travel then you can incorporate more of those experiences into your “real life”. Often when people travel they talk about going back to their real life; however, this whole experience is part of your real life. Here’s one of my favorite posts for the non-academic traveler of Qs and Ts (Questions and Tips) [click here]. For academic travelers who might be using travel or study abroad to enrich their research, I think this post on ethonography is fantastic [click here]. img_2936The experience of travel will keep giving to you even after you’ve returned home. You will have made new connections and had new experiences that will reverberate throughout all aspects of your life. Ask all the questions! Try all the food and dance to all the beats! Remember to take all the pictures!


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