A little over two years ago, I didn’t know what I was getting into. As an incoming junior in high school, I had signed up to go with a group from my town on a guided tour of Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England. Incredibly, everything lined up so that this last summer, I was spending two weeks in the land across the pond.
Before I say anything of my adventures, I want to say that traveling abroad seems impossible to many people. It’s expensive, costs time, money and comfort (in the case of oversea flights in economy). A while back, I wouldn’t have even been able to imagine wanting to go through all the hassle. Where I come from, most people have never been to a major city, much less a different country. However, I can honestly say that the experience was worth whatever problems arose.
In fact, I wish that everyone would become world travelers while they’re young. I’ll give you three good reasons why you should take my advice.
Reason Number One: New experiences abound abroad.
Until my departure date, I had never flown on any plane, nor had I ever seen the ocean. The largest city I had ever been in was Denver and the farthest I had ever traveled was to Durango, CO. In two weeks, I flew on six different planes, visited cities I had only ever read about or seen in movies and traveled thousands of miles.
One massive change was being surrounded by people with various accents. You would think that watching Harry Potter movies over and over again would have prepared me for that, but it certainly didn’t. After a while, it got easier to keep up with what was being said, and I actually caught myself unconsciously mimicking the speech pattern.
There is also something to be said about being surrounded by a completely different culture. In Ireland, for example, you can turn on the “telly” and find shows narrated in Gaelic. Interestingly enough in Scotland, I got to try haggis after it was paraded in by kilted men, accompanied by bagpipes. It wasn’t at all what I expected. Also, people don’t drive everywhere, but walk instead, which made a really nice change. The only pop regularly available was Coke and the only familiar chain restaurants where McDonalds and Subway.
I’ve also found that not only does travel allow you to have such experiences, but also that you can pick up a few things. For me, I started drinking tea with milk and Netflixing popular BBC shows like ‘Doctor Who’, ‘Sherlock’ and ‘Merlin’. I definitely would not have even considered this before traveling. One thing I can say about it is that traveling opens your mind to new possibilities.
Reason Number Two: There’s no time later.
I think that everyone should travel to a country they’re interested in while they’re young. There’s no time like the present. There are so many possibilities ahead for you when you’re in your late teens and early twenties. Traveling to a foreign country really helped me understand that the possibilities for the future really are almost limitless.
It’s also more difficult to travel as you get older. More than likely, you will end up tied to a job with limited vacation days. Also, you might be facing debt, raising a family and other adult responsibilities. As a young adult, you have a bit more freedom to do what you want. You aren’t tied to one school, town or even country.
Reason Number Three: It’s Fun.
I can honestly say that traveling to the U.K. and Ireland is the coolest thing I have ever done. I got to see things most people have only seen on TV and spend time with my family in incredible settings. So pull out a globe and pick a country. Find a tour, like I did, strike it out with some friends or family or study abroad. I would do it all again in a heartbeat, and I’ve already started planning future adventures.
Taylor Finke is a freshman. You may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.