Traveling Changes You

Robert - Harrisonburg, Virginia
Entered on February 26, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: change, place
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe that traveling and experiencing new things is the greatest teacher. I believe that you can read and study as much as you want, but if you don’t go out and experience things you will never truly understand. I have been fortunate enough to be able to travel quite extensively throughout the US and abroad. I have been able to experience and witness different cultures, see amazing places, and meet new and interesting people. I have been placed in situations that I was unsure I could handle, testing whether I was strong enough to get through. Traveling tends to change people, it transforms you, it starts to define your life, and it gives you a chance to see what your made of and what you can handle. I’ve been able to witness the personal transformation from a naive, reliant person, to an individual who embraces tough situations and is not afraid to back down from them.

I began traveling when I was a senior in high school. At that time, like many high school boys I began playing paintball. I had gotten really good and played for various teams all around the northeast, traveling locally to tournaments and practices. Eventually we got better and started to play national tournaments, the first being held next to the beach in Miami. This was the first time I had ever been on a plane and I was doing so by myself, with no adult supervision or parents. This was a huge event in my life, and allowed me to see what I was made of. We ended up doing well in Miami and that same year ended up flying to Los Angeles, Vegas, Denver, and San Diego for other tournaments. I was very fortunate to be able to do this without my parents telling me what to do and where I should go. It makes a huge difference in how you adapt and learn through these adventures and how you change.

This was just the beginning of my travels, I have been through almost every major city in the United states, spent a summer backpacking through Europe, and seen and done things that I will never forget. This was easily the greatest impact on my life. I can now approach any situation with confidence in myself that I will be able to deal with it. I am more culturally aware and accepting. I went from not really caring about what was going on in the world, to having a deep interest. I have a new appreciation for America and being able to be free.

To me traveling has been the greatest teacher I have had. It has opened up my eyes to what this amazing world has to offer, and has shown me its beauty and grace. If I can give any advice, it would be to get out and experience things on your own, the world is a big place and it has a lot to offer.