Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Travel: The Best Education

I think everyone should travel to a place they have never visited before at least once a year. Whether it is within our own country or to an international destination, traveling somewhere new and really experiencing the local culture is the best education.

I speak as someone who has just had the best vacation of my life in India, my parents’ native country. I have been there before, but this time I visited places I never saw before. Delhi, Mumbai (formerly Bombay), and other locations not commonly mentioned by the tourism industry were some of my stops during the month of February, and I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit these areas. What I learned from these urban and rural areas was how different the cultures and daily life in general are from other locations previously unknown to me, even though I have visited India several times before.

One example of this is witnessing camel rides in a residential area in central India. It is a common sight to see children sitting on top of these desert animals on any given day, walking by houses and avoiding cars and trucks that pass by regularly. For someone who was born and raised in New Jersey, where there are no camels or deserts in sight, I found myself watching and taking pictures eagerly, while parents of the children on these animals just returned to their houses to have afternoon tea. I had never seen this before when visiting India previous times, so it was refreshing to experience this unique sight.

Just driving a few hours away from New York City is like entering into a different world. When I visited a farm in Dutchess County in upstate New York, I was surprised that people actually say hello to strangers as they walk by, and will cheerfully take the time to give directions to those who are lost. I had to remind myself that I was not too far from home, even though it felt like I was.

Do you have any similar travel experiences to share?

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