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October 12, 2016
By Angela Choksi, Barrington
Ibn Battuta once said, “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” Traveling is a way to feel overwhelmed, and ecstatic, and in awe all while also feeling nostalgic. Traveling is a way to escape for me, like it is for many others as well. But, over the years, as I gained more traveling experience, I realized that traveling really helped shape the person that I am today. Every time I see a new city, or monument, or “wonder,” I cannot help but be mesmerized by the story of it; not only the story that it actually signifies, or its history, but the story that it tells to me, the story that I interpret from it, and the wonder that I witness when I notice its regalia or it splendor, something unlike I have ever witnessed before. Now, that may not make sense to some people, here’s a breakdown of why I think that travel moulds a person, their wishes, their beliefs, their thoughts, their ideas, and their perceptions.
When I am in a different country, I always love trying new foods, and experiencing diverse cultures. I adore emulating or spectating the native’s way of life- their clothes, their languages, their emotions, their movements. I often find myself wondering- Why do they act the way that they do? This question, I have come to find, after many years of asking it, is simply because, they’re…different. People all across the world, despite being, well…people, are so much more than that. They may eat different things, eat differently, dress diversely, talk differently, interpret other people differently, and express distinctly. This fascinating Human Geography really has no right or wrong interpretation of why diversity exists today. Historians believe that it is because of the separation and the isolation between groups of people, or maybe because one group’s tastes and preferences are different from those of another group. But is that really the only reason why heterogeneity exists today? Are people just an ocean or a sea or a country away from being homogenous? I believe that people are different not only because they are isolated from others’ or because they have different tastes and preferences, but also because, their culture is different, their traditions are different, their history is different, and their predispositions are different.
So, getting back to the question of why or how, rather, I believe that Travel has helped shape “me,” is that when I travel, I feel like I have assimilated into a different culture; immersed myself into a different way of life, and gotten accustomed to thinking a different way. I learn to see things in a different light. When I was in China, I looked and enjoyed Chinese food, not the way I think of Chinese take-out back home, but as “Chinese” food, something that I had never tried before, because it was so distinct from the hybrid Chinese that I had gotten so used to eating back home. I looked at the Great Wall of China differently when I was hiking along it, than a picture that I had seen of it on Google. The Chinese that people spoke there sounded different to me than the occasional sentence or two I had heard the Chinese teacher at our school speak. These different outlooks that I had gained by traveling, allowed me to make sense of why diversity exists today; why cultures and traditions are different everywhere, even though, people are just…people, as Chinese people in America are different from Chinese people in China.
This new perception that traveling helps me gain is is, because when I travel, I open myself up to new ideas, and new experiences. Being in a different country, I consider myself unversed in its matters, unversed in “it.” That is why I believe traveling has moulded me, to be me, because without that “brain drain,” I would probably have never allowed myself to be exposed to such a radically new way of life. I would never have been that impressed at something a cultural group created or that fascinated by the different architecture or the different food or the different clothing. Traveling helped me gain an experience that I would not have had otherwise, hence moulding my beliefs in a different manner, and allowing me to become a part of a new culture, unbiased, and unversed in it.
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