The Value of Travel

Reinhart - Plattsburgh, New York
Entered on December 10, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that there are two types of education: the type of education you receive in a classroom and the type of education you get from experience. The knowledge I obtain in the classroom will help me to achieve the goals I have set for myself such as having a successful job and starting a family. However, I believe that the more valuable type of education is that which comes from experience. One way in which I have received this is through traveling.

Traveling has been a part of my life since I was very young. I was born in Frankfurt, Germany and moved to Plattsburgh, New York when I was three. Growing up, my father was a pilot for a small airline flying out of Plattsburgh. My family was allowed to take day trips to Boston or Washington D.C. very inexpensively. My parents always made sure I knew that we were very lucky to be able to go to these places. Despite the fact that I was young, I learned many new things. I experienced many firsts such as riding a subway, seeing homeless people and taking a taxi. I learned a lot about the way cities work and it allowed me to experience different lifestyles and cultures.

When I was in sixth grade, I went on a vacation with my family to Paris. While we were on an extremely overcrowded subway, the power went out. The lights flickered off and the subway slowed and eventually stopped. Initially, everyone was silent. Despite everyone being packed in so tightly, I managed to turn around and ask my parents what was wrong and they said that they did not know, but that everything would be okay. Some men began pushing and yelling at the people around them. They were drunk and were trying to get a rise out of everyone. I was frightened and I thought a fight was going to break out. As the men continued trying to get people to react to their behavior, everyone continued to be quiet and ignore them. I was amazed that nothing happened or no one yelled at them to stop and eventually the subway started up again.

This event showed me that the majority of the people on this subway are looking out for one another. All it would have taken was one person to yell or take a swing at one of drunken men and the whole subway would have erupted into an unpredictable and possibly violent scene, but instead everyone remained quiet. This also taught me to stay calm and to trust that people will look out for you. Now that I am a college student, I have come to realize that I have learned the most on trips when things don’t go as planned. When you learn to deal with unexpected situations like getting lost, losing things and making mistakes, you learn to make due with what you have, think on your feet and throw your original plan out the window. Mark Twain once said: “I have never let schooling get in the way of my education”. I believe that the best education comes not from school, but rather experiencing the world.