What were we taught in school?
In school we are supposed to be taught the skills and knowledge necessary to help us make it through life, but is this really the case? I’ve talked about it with other travelers and the consensus we reached is that the majority of the information we learn in school is totally useless when it comes to truly getting by in the world. Schools help us to improve a very focused and limited form of our intelligence, namely our academic intelligence. It even goes as far as to convince some people that this is the only form of intelligence that matters. While having a certain degree may be helpful to getting a certain job, what schools doesn’t teach us are many of the real life skills that are far more valuable than the information we have memorized from books.
It’s not book smarts that helps the salesman close the deal, or helps the musician rock the stage, or helps the manager be loved by his employees, and while it may be book smarts that helps the computer programmer do his job it doesn’t help him make friends or find the love of his life. These abilities come from different types of intelligence that school doesn’t teach. School doesn’t teach us how to get along with others, how to be social, how to be independent, how to improve ourselves, how to build confidence, how to be happy, or which mindsets will serve us best in life.
Luckily there’s a difference type of education out there, which does teach us about the real things in life, and that’s the education of travel.
Learning about life
When we travel not only are our perspectives changed, but we also learn a bunch of awesome things that truly help us in life.
When you stay at home you’ll usually just hang out with the people you’re familiar with, and only occasionally meet a new person from time to time. When you travel however, you’ll meet a lot of people constantly, and this will really help improve your social skills. You’ll become better at meeting people, give off better first impressions and generally build friendships easier.
You’ll also meet a lot of locals. Some you can trust and some you definitely can’t, but you’ll learn how to tell the difference. You’ll improve your street smarts, learn how to avoid tourist traps and watch out for yourself.
You’ll learn about new foods, new drinks, new ways to cook. You’ll probably eat things you wouldn’t have known were edible, and possibly learn how to get by without clean drinking water from the taps.
You’ll learn acceptance. Resisting the strangeness of a new country will only bring you stress and limit your chance to really experience it. You’ll learn how to surrender to the ways of the new country and make the best of them. You’ll find yourself with a ‘when in Rome’ mentally causing you to experience new things you’d never try before.
Travelling will also help you gain independence, which has been a big one for me. You’ll have to do a lot of things on your own. You’ll often have to find your way from one city to another without speaking enough of the language and without any help. If you’re travelling solo you’ll get comfortable with eating or going to the bar alone, and this will help you make a lot of new friends.
You’ll learn new games and activities and ways to have fun. You’ll learn the joys of just throwing a Frisbee around next to the ocean, and how to turn that into a drinking game!
With the travelling mentality you’ll be more inclined to try scary things, like bungee jumping. You’ll have more motivation to face your fears (like my friend Kelli who explored a cave helping her get over here fear of bats.) These things will boost your confidence in all areas of life.
You’ll also talk to people of other cultures and learn a ton about their specific customs and traditions. More importantly you’ll learn about new ideas and new ways of thinking that they have. They will expose you to new mentalities about things you may have always took for granted.
You’ll learn how much you have or don’t have in common with other cultures, but on top of that you’ll find how easy it is to get along from all people no matter where they are from.
You’ll also meet people who have been travelling for years and who have incredible stories about leaving their old lives behind and all the adventures they embarked on. You’ll learn about so many new ways to make a living in the world that school wasn’t inclined to teach you about as they don’t require years of study.
I see travelling as an education put on overdrive. Travelling is fast paced 24/7 expose to new information, new people, new ideas, new experiences and new methods. You’ll be forced to challenge yourself, to step out of your comfort zone, and learn new ways to overcome new obstacles. My uncle who is a frequent traveler told me before I left that I would learn more useful things coming to China for a year than I could in 4 years at university, and I have to say he was right.
Use travelling as your teacher. It really does teach you about life.