My life has been quite an adventure. I was born to an Italian mother and a Puerto Rican father who had the travel bug. As a result I’ve had the opportunity to travel to almost 30 countries and live in 6 of them. My journey first started in Pordenone, Italy where I was born in 1991. From there, I moved to Germany and Belgium before moving to Arizona in 2004. My dad is an avid traveler so when we were in Europe, we traveled to as many countries as we could.
I remember that some years, we would travel to see 2 -3 countries at a time. When we moved to the U.S we made trips to South America and the Caribbean islands to see my family. Each of these experiences taught me lessons about how to approach life and about the diversity of people worldwide. In this article I’d like to share some of the best lessons I learned from travelling the globe:
Don’t be afraid to try something new
As you begin travelling around the world, you’ll notice that many people gravitate to what is familiar. My brother told me a story of how his co-workers would eat at McDonalds and other American restaurants while they were at a month long training in Japan. That just seems crazy to me! You’re in a country that has such a rich history of cuisine and you don’t even give yourself the opportunity to experience it? This not only applies to food, but to other experiences that get you out of your comfort zone.
I can tell you from personal experience that the times in my life that I did things outside of my comfort zone were the times where I grew the most. Commit to trying something out of the ordinary on your next adventure. Whether it’s trying an exotic new food or exploring a place off the beaten path, these experiences are the ones you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
Immerse yourself in the culture
When you arrive in a new place, it can often feel a bit overwhelming. This is especially true if you travel to a place that does not conform to your cultural norms. For example, if you’re a westerner (Europe, Canada, US, Australia etc.) travelling to a country that doesn’t conform to western culture (i.e. Asia, Africa etc.) you may be initially overwhelmed by the stark differences. In this situation, it may feel easier to find groups of people and places that seem familiar to you. Well I’m here to tell you that you should rethink your strategy.
When I went to Chile, I didn’t speak any Spanish and the locals didn’t speak any English. By forcing myself to communicate and interact in Spanish, I was able to become almost fluent in the language within 3 months. Not only that, I met some phenomenal people that I still keep in contact with to this day. On your next adventure be sure to immerse yourself in the culture. The value you’ll gain from these experiences will be immense.
Although our culture may be different, we’re all the same
After having talked about how different cultures are around the world, you may be thinking that people are starkly different from one another. Although we do have our differences, you’d be surprised how much we share in common. I have one memory in particular that exemplifies this. When I was 10, my family and I made a trip to Istanbul. While at a seafood restaurant on the water we were approached by an 8 year old boy holding 2 kittens. Although we didn’t speak the same language, he gestured towards an area where there were more kittens playing. My brother and I went over with the boy and we played with the kittens together.
We came from 2 different worlds. I was a middle class European child who didn’t speak Turkish and he was a lower-income Turkish boy who didn’t speak English. However, our love of animals and our desire to meet new people resulted in us enjoying each other’s company for the afternoon. Next time you visit a new country and meet new people, try to find things you share in common. I’m sure you’ll be surprised with how similar you actually are.
Bringing it all together
I’ve been blessed to be able to travel as much as I have in my young life. My dad gave me the travel bug and I’ve continued to enjoy travelling to this day. The unique lessons I’ve learned from my experiences abroad have made me a more accepting, knowledgeable and empathetic human being and these are traits that I will carry with me the rest of my life. Do you enjoy travelling and have any travel experiences that have changed your perspective on how you view the world? Do you have any lessons that you feel our readers would benefit from? I’d love to hear from you.
My book recommendation for this article is “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah. In the book, Trevor Noah shares the story of his upbringing and gives us a glimpse into what it was like to live in a pre and post-apartheid South Africa. Trevor’s story is inspirational and heartfelt. Not only did the book teach me lessons about how to accept diverse groups of people and their cultures but it also put my life situation into perspective. There are many people around the world who are much worse off than me and some, such as Trevor, were able to escape the environment and thrive. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a great biography to read. I’ve provided the link below:
Stay tuned for my upcoming book “The Millennial Playbook: Proven Success Strategies for the Millennial Generation”. The book will be released later this year!