Travel – the class we should all enroll in.
Ask anyone you know, and they will all tell you they love to travel.
Everyone is excited about the prospect of leaving the daily routine, obligations and stress and flying off to a desired location. That’s because on holiday we enjoy life more. As travellers, suddenly the morning sunrise has special colors, we carefully taste the flavors of the meals we eat. We really look, and see, the city we stroll through. When we find ourselves in an unfamiliar setting, we are more aware of everything around.
And when you have your eyes and senses truly awake, that’s the best time to open your mind for the lessons from the road. Because travel is not just leisure. Travel is education.
We mostly think of travel as a leisure activity. We imagine lying on a beach forgetting about the world, or hiking a mountain to clear our heads and think about… nothing. Dolce far niente, as the Italians call it – sweet idleness. This is the essence of travel, we tell ourselves.
But did you realize that by packing your bags and stepping on that plane you’re actually entering into a different kind of classroom?
Every time you start on a journey, either weekend-short or months-long, you have the chance to embark on a learning trip. There are lessons dotted all along your way, placed there to challenge you. They put your presumptions to the test. They show you there’s a different kind of “normal”. Imagine traveling to Turkey, for example. A peculiar culture, you enter a predominantly Muslim country with unique, blended customs. All of a sudden, you change. You learn, your mind expands. You grow. Let yourself get enriched by the cultures you cross instead of simply looking for mindless relaxation.
Travel is an exciting way of educating yourself.
No classroom, no books to cram on, but you still get the difficult lessons and challenging information. Being open to learn as you travel means you choose to get educated by the real life instead of academic books.
You don’t just read about ancient Greek history, but you step on it on the hills of Athens. You don’t just learn in the classroom how to say Posso avere più parmigiano?, but you learn it from the owner of a family restaurant in Florence (that’s “Can I have more parmesan?” – for your next trip to Italy). You don’t read detailed descriptions of the Angkor Wat temple, you experience it yourself by stepping on its stones. I guarantee you’ll remember everything about it in a whole new way than reading about it in a book.
Giving up your familiar habits and delving into a new culture is what will open your eyes. Will it be more difficult? Yes. Will it put you out of your comfort zone? Definitely. But you will learn, truly learn, lessons that no book can ever offer.
Next time you travel, remember to be present to the “classroom” and see the world with the eyes of a curious student. There’s no test to pass at the end, but your own transformation.