Column By J1 Reporter Betsy Piernicky
While we learn great amounts sitting at a desk, we can also learn by traveling and experiencing the world around us. School teaches us how to look good on paper, but traveling teaches us about ourselves and how to be a global citizen. A vast difference exists between being book smart and street smart, and it’s important that we learn how to be both.
The most important thing I have learned from traveling is how to be uncomfortable. I learned this when I visited France and Spain this past summer on a Marian trip. Throughout the 10 day excursion, I experienced sickness, heat, tiredness, and not knowing the language. It was overwhelming to have to process and deal with these things all at once.
While I know that these are things that were stressors in the moment, looking back on the trip all I can remember is the memories I made. Learning to be uncomfortable with my surroundings helped me grow as a person and taught me to enjoy situations rather than shy away from them.
I am blessed to have experienced firsthand the lives and cultures of people in other countries. It was eye opening to see how they go about their daily lives, and how their lives differ from mine. Something I experienced while traveling is being immersed in new languages. Communicating was difficult, but I somehow always found a way.
A friend I traveled with, Ashley Mercer ‘24, made a close connection with a little 8-year-old boy named Gabriel. They became friends despite the language barrier, and they hung out the whole time we were swimming at the Pont du Gard in Nîmes, France. The language difference taught me how to be resourceful and helped me solve problems. It also showed me that it is possible to make connections with people who don’t even speak the same language as you.
So while you learn a lot about the inner workings of a textbook throughout the school year, experiencing new cultures can teach you about yourself, other people, how to be resourceful, and the wider world around you, which, in my opinion, is even more valuable than what you could learn at a desk.