– Richard Furleigh
If you read any blogs on even a semi regular basis you will have come across the “Travel is important!” “Get out and go see the world!” or the classic “Broaden your horizons!” All of which sound great but from my travel experiences in this country and abroad, miss a critical point. Unless you open yourself up to those new experience, than you will get little to nothing out of it other than a couple pictures you’ll later post to Facebook.
Many people point to college as one of the biggest times in your life when you will be exposed to new ideas, and there’s a good reason for that. Get students together from not only all over your state but from the rest of the country and plunk them down beside one another and watch the magic. Now multiply that and that can be what travel is, if you’re open to it. It is absolutely imperative, and I cannot stress this enough, to begin any trip with a fresh set of eyes; the further your travels the more crucial this becomes. See the world through a child like state of wonder and interest, ask why things happened the way they do, get to know the thoughts locals have behind their beliefs religious and political, get to know their customs in a way that lets you appreciate them that much more, and then share yours with them too!
When Kristen and I went on our honeymoon to New Zealand we stayed almost exclusively in hostels not only for the cost savings and the free instant coffee, but for the shared experiences with other people. Two nights in particular stick out in my head when it comes to good conversation: one in Wellington at The Dwellington (which I loved more for the pun name) and Invercargill at a hostel I can’t find with Google anymore (hope you guys are still open!). The reason these two stick out as places we stayed during our trip is because of the conversations we had with other travelers who were staying there. At The Dwellington I had about a two hour conversation with a one guy and one woman from England, a woman from Canada, and a native New Zealander about the life of being recently graduated from college (or as they call it, university), focusing on what it takes finding a job, what other support structure they have for young adults, taxes once you get a job, healthcare while employed and while not, and so much more.
In Invercargill we sat with a couple from Israel, a butcher from France, and another woman from somewhere in South America. As the wood burning stove burnt down, was restocked, and burnt down again we joked and talked about everything from life, to what it was like living and working in our respective countries. It was amazing to get to talk about military service in Israel, working as a butcher for fine French restaurants, to life in the southern hemisphere in a harsh political climate. One amazing note about the Invercargill night as well: Kristen and I were the only two native English speakers there yet we communicated, sometimes very brokenly, in English and gestures the whole night, and it was that much more amazing for it.
These moments were enriching in ways that would never have happened had I not approached them with the mindset of curiosity, intrigue, and open mindedness about the greater world around me. There are so many things to be learned from people other than ourselves, and the further away from your state of normality you can get the more interesting information and people you will find.
If you’re heading out on a trip any time soon, try going off the beaten path, go sit at a bar and strike up a conversation with strangers, and try to explore what their life is like.
Any major trips you have coming up? Let us know about it in the comments down below, and if you want any advice on awesome places in New Zealand we’ll be more than happy to share! Until next time Pengminions!