Comment: Five reasons to go travelling
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More by luck than judgement, I spent the majority of the first year after I finished my undergraduate course outside this country. Here are five reasons why I don't regret it:
1. Better Weather
Shall we start with the obvious then? The gloomiest place on Earth is in the United Kingdom (it's Ben Nevis in case you were wondering), and the rest of the country isn't that much better. There are lots of places in this world where summer lasts for longer than five days a year, and there are lots of places in this world where a trip to the seaside at any time of year doesn't involve tackling a force nine gale straight off the polar ice-cap. As obvious as it sounds, spending a few months of your life in a place where your first skyward glance of the morning doesn't instantly depress you, is good for the soul.
2. Better Infrastructure
Syria and Libya. Now Turkey, Brazil and Egypt. It's easy to believe that the world is coming apart at the seams. In reality, for the majority of the time the majority of the world is experiencing progress at such a rate that exploring it is becoming easier all the time. Ever more remote places are becoming easier to access. Obviously, by definition as a place becomes more accessible it becomes less remote. That said, quiet Asian fishing villages don't turn into Malia overnight, and however problematic this process is, observing its beginnings can be fascinating.
3. Better People
Imagine that everyone you met overseas was British. As terrifying a thought as this may be, consider that this all-British group would still be the most diverse group of people you'd socialised with in ages. Couples who've been married for ten years rub shoulders with groups of friends straight out of university who've decided to go on the trip of a lifetime together. As air travel becomes cheaper, these groups are only going to become more diverse. Diverse groups means better conversation, which improves the experience for everyone.
4. Better Knowledge
Whether you want it to be or not, going travelling will always be an educational experience. No matter how much you move from expat enclave to expat enclave, if you spend an extended period time anywhere you will learn about the place's history and culture; it's unavoidable. The generation born after the Berlin Wall came down gets a lot of flak for being self-centred and materialistic, but we are entering the adult world at a time when overseas travel has never been easier. It's one of the few advantages we've got, and it needs to be made use of.
5. Better You
Like all the best jokes, the tales of twenty-something graduates finding their inner selves in a cave in Mekong Valley has a small semblance of truth in it. Backpacking wont fundamentally change anyone's personality, but having to get on with people, and the need to budget, does help a lot of people mature. While it is of course ridiculous to expect your inner self to be lurking behind a tree in the Amazon rainforest, that's not to say a few months away from home won't make you a better person.