Expanding the Self through Travel
You are hiking through the Caucasus Mountains in northern Georgia and would like to venture to a nearby village for a warm drink and some lunch. But your map doesn’t seem to match your surroundings and the only other person on the trail is an old, rugged-faced shepherd who doesn’t speak much English. You have two choices: ask him for directions in English and hope he understands, or attempt to ask him in the local language and hope you understand his response.
In both instances, the absence of a common language may pose a challenge in this basic social exchange.
Travelling to a non-English speaking country can be scattered with these kinds of experiences. Asking for directions, ordering lunch, or chatting with your neighbour on public transport; simple, everyday interactions can become unfamiliar, uncertain, and possibly even a little awkward.
Through hand gestures, body language, and facial expressions, we have the opportunity to overcome the absence of a common language and form new relationships with people we may never meet at home.
These experiences define us as travellers
The task of communicating with those who speak another language provides an opportunity to step outside our comfort zones. We must move beyond the confines of spoken word and explore alternative forms of expression. Through hand gestures, body language, and facial expressions, we have the opportunity to overcome the absence of a common language and form new relationships with people we may never meet at home.
By pushing our boundaries and adapting to unfamiliar situations when travelling, we are less likely to avoid challenging scenarios in our everyday lives. When we become more confident in facing the unknown, we are rewarded with new opportunities and relationships.
These experiences define us as individuals
Opportunities to form new relationships by navigating the unfamiliar, uncertain, and uncomfortable can expand our sense of self.
The moments we share with people we meet through travel can provide us with new perspectives and learning experiences that expand our understanding of ourselves.
Travelling offers us the chance to meet new people with unique histories, stories, and perspectives. They may see right where we see wrong and black where we see white. Their perceptions of people and places can broaden ours. They are a window into another language and culture. Through this window we can learn more about the world and its diversity. The moments we share with people we meet through travel, whether brief or life-long, can provide us with new perspectives and learning experiences that expand our understanding of ourselves.
Overcoming the absence of a common language allows us to create relationships that can broaden our worldview, cultivate our sense of self, and give meaning to our travels. Through these encounters, we have the opportunity to learn and grow as both travellers and as individuals.
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