STUDENT VOICES: Travelling in one’s youth can be life-changing

Belmont's Alexis Miller already bitten by the travel bug

Like many other people in my age group, I have a desire to travel.

Young people are curious and we want the chance to see parts of the world for ourselves firsthand. I want to be able to say “I was there,” feel the emotions that accompany being there and take things in through my own eyes rather than the lens of someone else’s camera.

There are programs, such as Lattitude (lattitudecanada.org), that come to our schools and encourage us to take the opportunity to work and go to school abroad. They promote travelling as something all people have the privilege of doing.

It ties us to life experience, relationships and discoveries we would’ve otherwise been left without. Leaving home to spend time in places previously unknown to you promotes self-growth in people who do so.

Travelling out in the world while we’re still able to is a dream of people both juvenile and mature. It helps us embrace new cultures and become more open to learning things outside of the lives we’ve been sheltered in.

A 2013 online travel tips article (worldofwanderlust.com) entitled “Why You Should Travel The World In Your 20’s,” states that “the world we live in today is much different to the world our grandparents lived in” and that globalization and the connections between people in different parts of the world are doing nothing but increasing.

Youth today are evidently more accepting and curious: some use social media and the Internet to speak to people across the world, while some choose to attend schools in different countries. This affects them and the students they meet during their stay.

Something we rarely take into consideration is that in your youth, you lack the pressing responsibilities that may begin to tie you down, such as children, a mortgage or a new career. This appeals to the need to be independent and adds emphasis that flying away to another part of the globe is something I want to do.

In Candice Gaukel Andrew’s “Ten Reasons Why Adventure Travel Is Good For You,” she explains how travel can benefit people in more ways than imaginable, like “raising your tolerance for uncertainty” by being forced into situations where the outcome is completely unknown. These kinds of experiences can promote coping and decision-making skills. Andrew adds that trekking to other places can improve a “wide variety of health problems” and helps fight physical and mental issues that may be waging within an individual.

Having spent nine hours on a plane, landed on another continent and seen things I’d never seen before, what I valued most was that it took my mind off my stressors. It was like they didn’t exist there, and I felt infinitely better than how I’d felt at home, where I was forced into routine.

Throughout my life I will reflect on time spent outside of my comfort zone: long flights, unusual weather, new food and walks that were so long they caused blisters. In other words, the negatives and positives.

I’ve seen Stonehenge up close and taken in how impressive it is, the massive rocks that will seemingly stay standing there forever. But I’ve also been on the tubes in the underground of London, squished between the hurried, grumpy people trying to get to wherever their destinations may be.

Experiences like this will write chapters in the book that is you and shape who you are by the end of your life.

In school, you will be presented with several options for what to do after graduation. The paths continuously suggested are post-secondary, work and travel. Some choose the first two without realizing the missed opportunities of the third. We are told stories from our peers and hear about their adventures, how at times they were terrified and how other times were the best moments of their lives.

They see old friends or family again after years apart, taking their first steps on the soil of the country they arrive in. We hear about festivals or gatherings that don’t happen at home, or simply about the feeling that they’re there and they made it in one piece after that long plane ride over the vast oceans.

I have yet to leave what we know to explore the things I don’t. Although I’m nearing and coming dangerously close to the freedom that will allow me to head in any direction, travelling is something that needs to be incorporated in my life, between semesters at university or on the vacation time I will get from my future job.

I hope to one day find myself winding through the streets of Thailand in the warm climate, riding through the plains in Africa and seeing all the animals I’d only seen in photos, and maybe even connecting with my own heritage in northern Europe.

There are some things provided by visiting foreign places that nothing else can.

Alexis Miller is a Belmont secondary student in Lauren Frodsham’s Writing 11 class.

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