Guest post by Alexander Goodman (www.bigfishsquad.com)
Whether you travel somewhere or live there, I don’t think it makes the experience any more valuable, one way or the other. It is just different.
For me, it is a “calling” of sorts to experience new parts of world, and acquire appreciation for diversity; it gives meaning to my life. You could even say it’s my religion, as trite as that sounds, I realize.
While you walk away from travel with both positive and negative impressions of the place you visited, it is that greater understanding of the place that makes it so rewarding. Every place is good and bad for different reasons, but you respect that, because these people are simply different from you.
Travel also forces you to experience various levels of adversity, so that when you return home to your “comfort zone”, you are, in my opinion, better equipped to handle the stresses of everyday life.
I live in France, and living abroad here has involved much of the aforementioned definition of travel, but in a much deeper, more multi-layered, and, at times, confusing way.
For instance, when you’re visiting Paris, you’re curious about the cultural differences. But when you live here, those cultural differences arise in every relationship you have, both personal and professional, and it’s easy to question whether you chalk something up to the person, or the fact that they’re French.
That said, I can’t sit here and decree something like, “If you haven’t spent xx amount of time in a place, you haven’t really experienced it.” That’s bullshit. And you’re talking to someone who has done a lot of both.
Really, you’ve just experienced it differently visiting there than if you had lived there. The point is to experience it somehow.
But one thing is certain: I believe everyone who has the means should make an effort to get out of their comfort zone, and see the world, whether it be by traveling or living abroad. Millions of people cannot afford to do either one of these; it is an untouchable luxury.
So to all those who have the means and the flexibility to do it, I urge you trade in that Caribbean beach vacay, and go somewhere truly exotic, truly different from what you know. And once you travel there, who knows, maybe you’ll live there one day. But in either case, the reward is precious and, unequivocally, invaluable.