(Extract from my blog post dated June 1, 2016)
In The Bell Jar, Esther thinks about how her classmates talked behind her back that she’s spending her golden college days buried behind books; it makes her feel insecure about herself and her decisions. Personally, I don’t have anything against spending my years behind books, but I would certainly avoid spending too much time in one place. There is this one dark alley from the bus stop to my apartment in UB. Since we all know how unattractive and threatening the streets of some residential areas in the city are, I used to dread walking there every time I went home late. I’d think how I should get out of this city. That’s maybe why I’ve never been much homesick except moments of missing my family and friends. It was as if my mind knew what’s good for me and making me want to see the world beyond my sugar bowl city*. However, it’s sometimes not so clear what exactly traveling does to us. Let me share few of the observations.
More organized thoughts. Taming the chaos in our messy minds.
Few days ago, we came back from our trip to Prague, and I was heading to home and noticed how peaceful I was compared to how I was feeling before the trip. I’m not exaggerating; it really felt like something has changed in me. It was like my thoughts were in constant chaos and the trip somehow assembled them into a good order that some things start to seem less stressful. Maybe it was because I was talking to my friend earlier and she talked about how her trip made her less anxious about lots of things we as students are worrying about. The thing is I’d completely forgotten about the conversation and was casually thinking back about what we’ve seen in Prague. So I do believe now traveling helps me to become mentally more balanced, I mean not neurotic.
Greater respect and knowledge of people of the world
My friend Anuu wrote about her thoughts on traveling on her blog. She wrote how traveling let us see the wonders of human accomplishments and open our eyes about what we can achieve. Another good observation just as many other words of wisdom I remember from reading Anuu’s writings. When you travel somewhere, most of your misconceptions about that place change and you’d have own your personal story to relate to that place. More places to think fondly in our lives, the more at peace we feel about our own existence in the planet. The feeling of belonging somewhere can increase just as how now I can call Tilburg my home. We visit different places and realize the people living in there are just humans like us expect the cultural and geographical differences. We are, after all, inhabitants of one planet.
Stronger connections with your fellow travelers
Quoting Dr. Seuss, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.” Also you are the one who will choose your travel companions. Not only traveling helps us to understand ourselves better, it’s a very good way to get to know someone else. When we’re exposed to a new culture and a new environment, not all of us can act on our best and get excited about the new things happening. Seeing new things will bring up new topics you never had discussed with your fellow travelers even for close friends and family members.
*referring UB as a sugar bowl because it’s surrounded by mountains and we’re like sugar pieces stuck at the bottom