Of all the things I have done to advance my personal development and expand my knowledge, international travel is right up there at the top of the list of things that have made the most impact. My experiences living and traveling in different countries has played a large role in shaping my life; I hope this article will inspire you to buy a plane ticket and see for yourself.
The ability to be patient is probably one of the most powerful ways to bring a greater sense of peace to our lives. I will be the first to admit that patience is not my strong suit but my time abroad has helped me improve leaps and bounds. I have been to many places where the pace of life is much slower and no one is in a rush —this has helped me slow down a bit and go with the flow better; it’s also allowed me to just let things happen when they are going to happen. Things take longer to get done; things are done inefficiently. The office or store that is supposed to be open is not and you have to wait to get what you need. All of the frustrations and delays are gifts because they will teach you to be more patient, which will reduce stress a lot.
I have found living and traveling abroad has made me more flexible and more adaptable to whatever is happening in the moment. Our tendency to be so rigid and fixed in everything we do and have it planned down to the last minute not only makes life less fun, it causes us a lot of emotional turmoil when outside forces come and mess up our meticulously planned existence. That bus you expected to take was full or never showed up so you need to alter your travel schedule. That hotel you had your heart set on is booked. Unexpected bad weather makes that trip to the beach a bad idea, so you need to figure out a new place to go.
So much of our friction with other people comes from knowing absolutely nothing about their way of life, their perspective, their experiences and why they do what they do. We fear, we judge, we try to impose our way. Having spent time in so many different cultures, I have such a greater understanding of where people are coming from and why they are the way they are. When we understand people better, we can have more harmonious relationships. Being around people who are different than us will not feel as uncomfortable; we can learn so many things.
One of the best ways to really get to know yourself better is to step outside of your comfort zone and your routine. When you place yourself in new places and new situations, it really gives you a chance to see how you really are, what you are capable of. Without having to deal with the usual stuff in your ‘’real’’ life, you can gain a clarity about what you want to do and what type of person you want to be.
People from all countries, races and walks of life have gone on to do amazing things no matter what their original circumstances were. I am definitely not one to think that we cannot change the life we are born into. But, with that being said, the country or culture you were born into no doubt can give you a tremendous start or make the journey incredibly difficult. Seeing some of the things I have seen, I have developed a greater sense of gratitude for the things I have, like money to have these experiences, growing up in a stable environment and freedom.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who enjoys sharing her experiences and insights from her travels. Check out IsVolunteers for more information on Volunteer Programs in every corner of the globe.