I’m off again!
Next stop, Tallinn, Estonia.
Where is it?
Estonia is on the north-eastern edge of the European Union, bordering Russia and Latvia. I’m off to attend the SIETAR Europa Congress to sharpen my intercultural tools and connect with Young SIETARians, the Millennial interculturalists, as well as some of my more seasoned colleagues.
Travel is still an incredible life source for me; despite my fear of flying and the hassles that come with air travel today, I can’t ever envision a life where I’m not going somewhere!
The thrill of exploring a new city and country still packs a punch! And just the same, going to a country where I don’t speak the language still scares the hell out of me.
But it is the rush I get from the unknown that makes traveling so powerful.
There is nothing more enchanting to me then walking along the ancient cobble stone streets of a European city to find hidden side street café to sip a cup of coffee and enjoy a buttery pastry!
Or thrill of a hot and bumpy tuk tuk ride down the crowded streets of Bangkok, quenching my thirst with a bag of cold coffee.
When I’m abroad, I love nothing more than going to a local grocery store or market, or people watching in the town square! I get a tiny peek into the everyday lives of the local people.
The sights and sounds of another culture excite my senses and prepare me for the cultural exploration of travel. These experiences fill my soul and rejuvenate my spirit, because they ignite my curiosity for culture and the different ways in which we all live our lives and view the world.
Traveling isn’t just about eating and sightseeing; it is much more than that!
In last month’s blog, “travel” was one of the strategies I recommended for overcoming the Quarter Life Crisis. This wasn’t offered up as an escape from one’s problems, but rather a growth and learning opportunity to develop ones resolve.
You see, navigating the complexity of another culture, their systems, values, and customs requires a resiliency and ability to tolerate ambiguity that can only be fully acquired and exercised by interacting with a different culture. Traveling isn’t just about appreciating the sights and sounds of another country, but also the personal growth you experience and the life skills you gain.
As a direct result of my experiences abroad, I have become more confident, self-reliant, flexible, adaptable, and patient.
And it isn’t only my own personal testimony, but I’ve conducted my own research to determine the benefits of intercultural experiences (research nerds click here for more) which I’ve added to the hundreds of first-hand experiences I’ve heard over my twenty plus years in the field of international education and intercultural learning.
Travel can be more than a trip.
Experiences abroad will challenge you to not only better understand others, but also yourself. It’s provides the opportunity to increase both your awareness of others and yourself. An experience abroad will deepen your understanding of what drives and motivates your own values and beliefs.
It teaches you which of your values are worth holding onto and which ones are okay to let go of. You will stretched beyond your comfort zone and establish new boundaries and learn just how far you can push yourself.
The end result is an ability to be creative, adaptive and effectively manage change and difference.
These skills are core ingredients for managing countless challenges we face in life. And more importantly, these are skills which are not so easily acquired in class or on the job.
Whether you travel as part of a formal study or work abroad program or go “old school” with just a back pack and Eurorail pass, travel can be a fertile learning ground for your life and leadership skills.
So if you are a twenty-something (or even a forty-something) make sure travel is a part of your life and career development plan.
And if you are employer looking for resilient and adaptable employees, then keep your eye out for those who have traveled.
Here is more about the benefits of travel:
Here is a great article Career Benefits of Study Abroad, in case you don’t believe me.
Follow me on Twitter for interesting facts on Estonia and for updates while I’m on the road.
Watch this short video on Estonia from Rick Steves.