I was in the first grade when I moved to Japan. I hated the notion of leaving the one place in the world that meant anything to me, but I had no choice because my family had decided for me. After living in Japan for two years, I realized that I had been exposed to a world that not many other people in America would know about. The firsthand knowledge that other people coexist with me in another part of the world was an enlightening truth. I believe that traveling to places and experiencing other cultures not only teaches you acceptance of another culture, but the ability to think and behave independently from the people around you.
When I was first living in America, the fact that other people were living in another culture far away meant little to me. Being immersed into a different way of life is like studying one book for all your life, and then finally entering a library full of books. The discovery is difficult to come by, but the reward is never lost. I never thought that visiting another country was any different than watching a T.V. segment about it. Today, many people rely on other people to tell them what to think about different people or places. Only by visiting a place does it then become your right to determine your opinion about that place. Too little value is currently placed on doing things yourself, when there is so much to get from things you experience firsthand.
I am certain that the benefits that I’ve received from my experiences have been and will continue to be extremely helpful in various situations I experience in my life. The ability to empathize with another person is such an important asset. Teamwork, friendship and many other core relationship building skills rely on empathy. Much of the world’s problems are merely caused by a lack of understanding of other people. Tolerance is another virtue gained from traveling. Understanding how another person functions and accepting that they have needs different to yours is a verity that comes with travel. Many different kinds of relationships require tolerance of another person’s beliefs. I think that the many benefits of traveling can be attained regardless of age, race or anything else.
Ever since I’ve moved back from Japan, I have become aware of the differences between the two countries. Many people have told me that some of those differences are good or bad, but since I have witnessed both worlds, I know that it is my job to form my own opinion. I know that it is my duty to analyze everything I see and hear until I know the truth. I believe that my experiences have given me the ability to open my eyes and see for myself.
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