We all love to travel. Exploring the world one country at a time, widening our horizons and truly indulging in the global cultural mosaic.
From my experience every time I travel I feel different. I feel I have changed. The place I left behind has remained the same, while something new has sparked inside me.
I always thought travel invoked fundamental change in a person. However, the more I think about change the more I realize I am still the same person, rather travel shaped me.
My thoughts, ideals and desires were shaped by my experiences. I became a more fulfilled person by building on the initial foundations that were created at home.
I recently spent four months backpacking across Europe. I truly threw myself in to each diverse culture. Considering myself a traveller rather than a tourist.
Coming from Australia, a very new country in comparison, Europe offered the historical masterpiece I had been craving.
An avid history buff I spent most days getting lost in the city, admiring the architecture and wandering through art galleries. I was constantly thoughtful to the millions of people who had been walking these cobbled streets for centuries.
Often when you talk to people about their global adventures these are the types of experiences they relay.
These are just surface experiences though, and I think being a part of a distinct culture can make you feel like huge change has occurred.
Tasting new food, tackling the language barrier, diving into history and interacting with people whom you would not usually meet. Sharing your humanity despite the fact you may be from completely different sides of the globe.
These are all wonderful experiences but again are external. They contribute to your travels in a huge way by influencing the bigger shaping that is happening within yourself.
Yet, people often mistake this as fundamental change. So many articles write about the change you experience after travel. Becoming more social and accepting, gaining confidence, more culturally aware ect.
This is true, but weren’t you these things before? I believe travel more developed these aspects of your personality.
Say for instance, my trip to Europe truly eased my control freak ways. I realized I won’t always get on the right train, I may go to the airport a day earlier than my scheduled flight or I may take a wrong street and end up at a quirky little outdoor café. Life is full of surprises. Travel shaped that aspect of my personality.
However, it is important to delve deeper into yourself. Am I fundamentally the same person? When it comes down to it I believe the answer is yes.
Not everyone will have an Eat, Pray, Love self-discovery. Most travellers will not experience that ultimate upheaval in life.
I believe it is more important to focus on how the knowledge you gained has shaped the person you are today. Have your dreams and desires become clearer? Have you realized more what is important to you in life?
I studied abroad at the University of Toronto in Canada. It was a six-month program that left me with friends around the world, memories to last a lifetime and a major realization.
Studying overseas truly cemented my decision to move to New York City. My desire to move to NYC had always been present but living in a multicultural place like Toronto helped make that dream into a definite reality.
Everyone has these shaping experiences when travelling.
Just like in the film Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Whether you are Vicky leaving Spain realizing the right path for your future or Cristina still searching for exactly what she wants, yet certain only of what she doesn’t want.
Truly a perfect story of how everyone reacts different to travel. Everyone is affected in a unique way. No one can tell you how travel will shape you.
It is important to look at your adventures from a deeper perspective. See through the surface experiences and the cultural awakenings to how this has shaped the inner workings of your soul.
For now all I can do is share how travel has shaped me. The rest is up to you.
As Walt Whitman said, “Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you. You must travel it by yourself.” (Leaves of Grass).