This I Believe

Rohan - Ellicott City, Maryland
Entered on May 24, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe in travel. As humans, we go to school to learn. We are taught how to add, read, and think analytically, but never do we really learn about the world. Our knowledge is a means of isolation. We entrap ourselves within our words and numbers, and close ourselves from the world. True knowledge lies in experience. We can only learn about the way something works by experiencing it. Therefore, to understand the world it is absolutely necessary to experience it. I was given the opportunity during my 7th grade to spend a year in England because of my father’s sabbatical. My entire family packed up from our privileged, private school life and we traveled to a small apartment in Cambridge, England.

At first I was very hesitant to go. I did not want to leave behind my comforts. I enjoyed my life and did not want change. Then I was told about this “wonderful opportunity.” Everyone except for me was ecstatic that I would have the chance to experience different countries. I thought they were all crazy. Who would want to leave “the perfect life?” It turns out, I had no say in the matter, and we ended up going anyway. I was torn away from everything I knew.

We traveled. We stayed in Cambridge, which was our home base for all of our other travels across Europe. In total, I went to about 11 countries, spending various amounts of time in each one. Due to our large traveling schedule, I missed a good portion of the school year. I, however, didn’t miss any of the numbers and words. Instead, I learned something so much more important.

I learned about the world and about culture. I was forced to become a part of a completely different society. I was completely changed by the different version of life. I witnessed different cultures at their worst and at their best. I saw the beautiful ruins of England and the pickpockets that frequent Rome. I saw the huge churches of France and the small, cramped cars of London. I witnessed countries at their best and at their worst.

I learned through experience. I remember very little from my schooling that seventh grade, and I probably will completely forget the school I went to, but I will NEVER forget my trip around the world.