Travel May Broaden the Mind, But Living Abroad Deepens It

It is only by walking a mile in another culture’s shoes that we gain a true perspective on our own reality

Matthew Clapham
A-Culturated

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A person stands with their back to the camera, a small rucksack on their back, looking out at a chaotic city road junction full of mopeds and buses
Photo by Steven Lewis on Unsplash

When we are born, our eyes cannot focus beyond thirty centimetres. Enough to begin to recognise our mother’s face, which is all we need to know. All we can possibly allow ourselves to know — she is our sole source of sustenance and protection. Our world is confined to her. Nature makes it so.

That world slowly expands over the coming months, from her, to hers. We have no form of independent locomotion, so must be carried by an adult — almost always our mother under typical circumstances — to perceive the surrounding world along her chosen or dictated trajectory.

Our social milieu swells ever so slightly, to include our wider family, acquaintances, the surrounding neighbourhood. Our immediate family still fulfil all our material needs, but it is through our observations and interactions in the wider world that we grow psychologically into our true selves.

The agonising wrench as our mother’s apron strings are severed — like a second umbilical cord — on that first day of nursery school is as vital as it is painful. We must continue to push our boundaries ever outwards, to come into contact with…

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Matthew Clapham
A-Culturated

Professional translator by day. Writer of silly and serious stuff by night. Also by day, when I get fed up of tedious translations. Founder of Iberospherical.