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How traveling has changed my life


You’ve heard of the term “homesickness”, but have you ever felt homesick for a place you’ve never been? There’s a German word for it, fernweh, which implies a “longing for far-off places”, particularly ones you’ve never visited. This term is one of my favorites because it completely describes my feelings about traveling.

“…fernweh, which implies a ‘longing for far-off places’, particularly ones you’ve never visited.”

Travel has been a constant part of my life since only a few years ago, but I honestly don’t know what I would do without it. From volunteering in Indonesia to studying in Australia, I’ve enjoyed a variety of travel experiences. I love exploring new places, mingling with locals, being immersed in nature, and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. I wouldn’t say that travel has turned me into the best version of myself (which I’m still working on), but it has changed my perspective in many ways, including how I view others and how I approach life. And this is how. 

I’ve become more sociable 

If you met me many years ago, you would be amazed at how timid I was back then. I lacked the courage to approach strangers, couldn’t look them in the eyes, and avoided crowds as much as possible. Traveling, on the other hand, has strengthened my communication skills and forced me to interact with plenty of people. When traveling in a foreign country, you will be put in situations that you would not have ended up in otherwise. It could be asking for directions, seeking help, or simply buying something. Sometimes it is hard to communicate with people from different countries and backgrounds, and traveling allows you to master it.

I’ve learned how to deal with stressful situations 

Once in Switzerland, I could not find my travel money pouch. What’s worse is that most of our travel expenses are in the bag. My heart skipped a beat, when I quickly realized that I had left it on the table back in the hotel in France. I called the hotel reception hoping that maybe they had found it. Frankly, I wasn’t optimistic about finding it because I have heard a lot of negative things about crimes in Europe. After a few desperate phone calls, the hotel staff agreed to assist me in finding the pouch. Fortunately, they found it after thoroughly searching the room. However, we had to return to the hotel before it closed at midnight, or we would have to wait until the next day to get it back. We didn’t arrive before midnight (after receiving two speeding tickets on the way from Switzerland to France), but the hotel staff stayed awake and waited for us, which made us feel incredibly appreciative of their kindness.

In travel as in daily life, things don’t always go as planned. You’ll quickly realize that accepting these setbacks is a part of life and you’re already one of the luckier people on this earth. Regardless of the little issues that may be weighing you down, the list of things to be grateful for is always longer. 

I’ve broaden my perspective 

This was one of the most essential lessons I have learned in my life. As we grow older and go through experiences, our mind evolves and expands to accommodate the new information you receive. Traveling to a new place is similar, but the learning process happens at a faster pace. 

For me, being open-minded means being willing to try new things, learning how to accept new perspectives, and most importantly, embracing cultural differences. Culture is one of humanity’s greatest things, but it is not easy for one person to accept and understand another’s culture. It can only be truly appreciated when other cultures are experienced and the differences embraced. For example, before coming to Indonesia, I had a prejudice against Muslims because most news coverage of this religious group is negative. However, after spending two months in Jakarta, hearing the sound of calls to prayer multiple times a day became familiar to me. I also learned that Islam is not monolithic, and there are more than a billion Muslims in the world, each with an individual view of life. I had Muslim friends who wore hijab, and others were very well dressed and took a lot of pride in their appearances. I also had Indonesian friends who were conservative, and others who supported LGTB communities. But all of them were kind and willing to learn more about other cultures and values. My perspective on life was changed after learning about their culture. 

And I’ve become more appreciative of home

We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude. This isn’t surprising, staying at home most of the time might make you fail to properly appreciate what you already have. Travel can make you grateful for what you left behind. It could be your mom’s cooking, your dad’s lame jokes or your sister’s sense of humor. All these little things of life will remind you why you call that place home. Missing home is just a sign that you’re thankful for what awaits you when you return.