When it comes to traveling, there are two types of people: those who are open to experience and those who are not. Those who are open to experience tend to travel a lot, and to unlikely areas of the world. Those who are not open (or less open) to experience, find comfort and enjoyment in routine, familiarity and so they prefer traveling to a place they already know about or have been to—nothing too crazy.
But what happens to those who venture out into the unknown? A study from Julia Zimmerman claims that extended travel can definitely influence personality development. The study sampled a group of German college students, some who studied abroad (one to two semesters) and some who studied locally. Before traveling, all the participants were given a personality inventory to measure the five personality dimensions: Extraversion, Agreeableness, Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, and Emotional Stability. The goal was to study if extended travel and building social networks from extended travel, affected an individual’s personality. As you may have suspected, when the students returned from studying abroad, they showed an increase in the five personality dimensions in comparison to those who did not study abroad.
So what does this tell us? Get out there! The world is so much bigger than your town, city, or even country. It’s important to not just know, but to experience first hand what the rest of the world has to offer and I’m not talking about material things, but the experience of it all, the memories. You’ll never see another red sun like that in Goa, India; the smell of coffee while you roam the streets in Italy; the warm smiles from the Balinese people in Ubud. All of sudden, you’ve put a memory, a smell, a face, to the very same things you read about.
Traveling just takes you outside your comfort zone. It forces you to adapt to new people and cultural experiences. Even a simple trip from New York City to Quebec City pushes travellers to adapt to the differences in language (French), food (the infamous poutine) and maybe even outlook. The more we engage with people from around the world, the more open we become to our differences. Aside from becoming a global citizen, traveling can also aid in gaining some perspective on life, which leads us to more emotional stability. You don’t sweat out the little things anymore when you’ve experienced living in a hut with no running water or electricity for a month and yet, still feel content with your life at that moment. So travel—travel as far as you can, and as much as you can.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel, read only one page.”
- Saint Augustine
Peace & Love,
Anna & Nishia