And the first time I really left the country, I went big.
I jetted off to New Zealand for a semester abroad.
I considered England or Ireland, but figured I could go there for a long weekend if I really wanted to, but going to New Zealand took commitment. I knew, even as a college kid, that getting clear across the glove would be difficult in life after college.
It's one of the smartest things I've ever done.
In the months before I left, I did all my reports for an international relations class on New Zealand. I read everything I could find and Googled the heck out of the country that's roughly the size of Colorado.
When I got there, everything was new and different and amazing.
My semester abroad exposed me to a new culture, way of thinking and so many new people with experiences vastly different from my own.
That trip started a chain of international adventures that were genuinely life changing and so I'm starting the I Believe... series with why I believe in travel.
+ You get outside your comfort zone. At home, you do your routine in the same places with the same people and there's nothing wring with that but you sure learn a lot about yourself when your routines go out the window. You try new food, new cafes, new workouts, new adventures, new views and try things you might never have the guts to do at home.
+ You broaden your perspective. I was just talking to M this morning about the value of travel (and I don't mean luxury resorts or packaged for you tours) and how it exposes you to different ways of life, different perspectives, different education systems, value systems, political systems. I went to school in New Zealand with students from New Zealand and the rest of the world. They approached their studies very differently than we do back home and I was able to hear what some of the rest of the world things about my home country. You also learn how small the world can be when you Donald Duck in PIcton, New Zealand. It makes you think about how the world values your nation and what you really want to share with the world.
+ You learn how small you are. Traveling, really traveling, teaches you that the world does not, in fact, revolve around you or even your country. You learn that the American way is not the only way or even the best way. It doesn't make you any less American, or love your country any less, but it helps you understand how our country came to be, what makes us different, what makes us great and what makes us not so great. I genuinely love my country, but understanding that it's a big world and we're but one nation of many older cultures and societies allows you to develop a far more mature appreciation for your homeland. You see the great things in the world, but also the needs. You spend a lot of time thinking about what you want your place in the world to be.