Travel As A Global Citizen
Updated: Dec 1, 2021
Many of us are guilty of this at some point in our lives. We travel to a foreign country and spend the entire time holed up in a resort hotel, lying by the pool, eating hamburgers and french fries for every meal, and not really concerning ourselves with the potential difficulties that those outside the hotel may be facing.
When we return and people ask us what the country was like, we have very little to say, other than that the pool was pretty, and the staff at the hotel was friendly. Looking back on our trip, we realize that we never really experienced the country we were in.
Being a global citizen means stepping out of your comfort zone and really experiencing a country for what it is. That doesn't only mean trying new foods, or visiting popular tourist destinations (although that can also be a part of it).
It means taking a real look at the world we live in, the good, bad, and ugly of it all. It means realizing that celebrating our differences and respecting and working with one another to make the world a better place is in the best interest of us all. So let's discuss how you can be on your way to becoming a true "Global Citizen."
The simplest way to start becoming a global citizen is through education. Begin researching countries you may want to travel to one day. Find out about their history, religious affiliations, food, and culture.
Once you have found some places that seem interesting, start learning what the specific problems facing that region are. Every country in the world faces some sort of hardship. Remember, you aren't just looking for pretty scenery. You are looking for ways to make the world a better place.
Have you ever heard the phrase "Think globally, act locally"? Well, now is your chance. Begin in your own hometown first. There are hundreds of volunteer opportunities wherever you live. Start at home to figure out what you enjoy. The skills you learn at home might be desperately needed somewhere else in the world.
Do you like working with kids? Do you enjoy building houses? Are you an animal lover? These are the kinds of volunteer jobs you can first do at home. Once you have found an area that you enjoy, you can start making travel plans.
Pack Your Bags
Let's face it, no amount of research or planning is going to match the experience you will get from actually traveling when it comes to being a global citizen. When you go to a foreign country with open eyes and an open mind, it will have a tangible effect on you. I would go so far as to say that it will change you as a person.
There are plenty of ways to travel as a global citizen in training. Begin looking into volunteer experiences, international internships, study abroad programs, gap years, or international service-learning programs.
You can research based on a specific continent or country, or based on a specific area of expertise that you want to learn more about. The important thing is to just go. I know traveling can be a little scary at first if you aren't used to it.
But I promise that, if you leave the comfort and safety of the small world you have created for yourself, and travel to a new and unfamiliar place, your entire perspective on life will be different. You will begin to realize that, although we may have our cultural differences, people everywhere are basically the same.
I saved this for last because I think it's the most important. Reach out to people. That includes the people from your own country who are also interested in travel or becoming a global citizen, but also people who aren't from your country.
Even if you spend a long period of time in a foreign country, it's hard to really understand the place until you talk with people who actually grew up there. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't ask in a way that is judgemental, but let them know that you are honestly curious about their daily lives, and the problems they face, or the things they love.
The world is getting smaller. Globalization means that we have three choices moving forward:
We can hide in our little neck of the woods and pretend that the rest of the world doesn't exist.
We can take a superficial look at the global community, but not look hard enough to face the terrible issues that people in other communities have to deal with.
We can choose to look at the world with great interest, and when we see problems that we might be able to help fix, we do our part to fix them.
If that last one sounds like you, then maybe it's time you start thinking of yourself as a global citizen!
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