Real Education Comes With Travel By Bill Harbin Jr.
Visiting other cultures can open your mind to real life in this world. Today we live in a global economy but still have strong cultural differences. Students who understand this no matter what age they are will have a better understanding of life and business. Learning things from books and receiving good grades to earn a degree is fabulous. Those folks that get an advanced education will probably earn more money. Their jobs may be more rewarding. However, a real education comes from real life experiences, and travel is true open book learning.
There was a movie entitled Soylent Green with an interesting concept many years back. Life on this planet had become so bad there was no beauty to be seen. The highlight of a person’s years came at the end of their life when they took a pill to die. Before death they saw a beautiful film of the earth’s beauty in the past. They did not get to experience this first hand because it was too late. The real beauty of the earth was gone. In our real world it is not too late to experience real beauty and unique cultures.
A visit to Australia answered questions that I had from reading about this country. On our first day in the hotel a maintenance man knocked on the door and said “Good Daye Mate”. Yes, I discovered people really talk that way and it seems to be the official greeting. While hiking on a trail the next day we followed a sign that said round trip. In America that would have meant you ended up back where you started. However, we realized after completing this hike that a round trip in Australia did not finish the trip to arrive back at our beginning point. We almost missed our tour bus because we were miles from where we started. Roundabout is an entirely different term that causes confusion while traveling the roads.
While shopping in China I discovered you must negotiate when shopping in the local stores. If you walk away from a clerk they will chase you down and yell at you to make a sale. After experiencing this I no longer complain about service in America. When you are running to escape a sales clerk the impact is greater than reading about it in a book. Knowing the real culture and attitudes of another country provides a real life education. Feeling the crowds bump against you in the over populated streets lets you know you are alive and will stay in your memory banks longer than that book learning will.
There are some beautiful photographs in books. High definition video can capture vivid landscapes. However, when you climb the Great Wall of China and have sweat pouring off your brow it will be remembered forever. That view from the top is incredible. Bangkok has the worse traffic in the world. Feeling that sting in your lungs from their pollution and the sticky heat is a remembered event. Textbooks do not produce feelings.
Get your degree from reading the books. Do most of your lab work outside of class in the real world while traveling. If you take what is learned from other cultures and combine this education with the paper degree your life will be more fulfilled. That way you won’t wish for a pill to encounter the beauty of this world and its people. You can have an authentic experience right now before it is too late.