This I Believe

Douglas - Pleasant Gap, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 1, 2008

Humans by nature are sedentary creatures. We feel safest at home. Our homes tend to be in the same geographical regions as the rest of our family and likely are in the same area as many generations before. We learn a great many things in our home environment, but man can learn 100 times more when they leave those areas for lands unknown.

In our ever-decreasing global world, the ability to travel is now greater and easier for all. One must take advantage of the possibilities available. Advances in the technology of transportation and the increase in personal security while traveling should be reason enough to wake up and go.

When one travels, they leave behind them the sense of belonging and a knowledge of their surroundings. In exchange for their sense of acceptance, they receive a new world full of many differences and experiences. I have found that one can find as many differences traveling within their own country as they do when traveling outside of their country. Differences can include: a new culinary experience or a new way of pronouncing a familiar word.

If one decides to travel in foreign lands, all the more of an adventure will greet them. New countries filled with different languages, people, customs, food and traditions will be before you waiting to be observed. Nothing is more educational and personally revealing as traveling in a foreign land. One learns much about them self, such as how they react in unfamiliar situations or communicate with people who do not speak their language.

I have sipped sweet tea in the Tennessee Mountains, ate a beaver tail in Ottawa, Canada, heard a yodeler in the Austrian Tyrol, have enjoyed German roasted almonds at the Cologne Christmas market and have smelled wild Edelweiss in the Swiss Alps. I have walked in and around an ancient Viking stone circle in Sweden, kissed the Blarney Stone in Ireland, ate fig pudding at Christmas in England, rode a train in a ferry across the North Sea, saw the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace in Oslo, Norway and froze myself in a December Russian wind in Warsaw, Poland.

It is more than just bragging rights to be able to stand up and tell others where you have been and what you have done. I look back at this short list of places where I have been and things that I have done with great joy and personal fulfillment. Each location opened my eyes in a different way. I have been many other places in our world and have seen and experienced many other things, but in the end, all of my travels have simply made me a better-rounded individual with an awareness of what lies beyond my front door. I have a better understanding of why the world works they way it does. I have seen many differences among people but have also discovered many similarities.

None of this enlightenment would have ever been gained if I had not taken the initiative and traveled.

Above all, travel helps us break down barriers and preconceived stereotypes. Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. I believe in the positive, emotional and personal effects of travel. How can we be contributing members of our global society and only have seen 1% of the world? I must agree with St. Augustine who said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”