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Traveling is worth every step

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A United Airlines flight lands Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. (Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Traveling is often overlooked as a valid learning experience. School takes priority, and traveling purely to see other cultures and countries is crassly associated with the word “luxury.”

When speaking about travel, a trip to Six Flags with the family or a weekend in wine-country doesn’t satisfy the meaning completely. The lessons and the learning start when a traveler takes a step they never have before, to places that they never have been before.

A backpack trip across Europe, a year abroad as an exchange student, a couple weeks spent exploring an area of the world not seen before. It is a trip that will bargain for a place in someone’s memory among the countless math lectures, and mean just as much as complicated algebra.

The wisdom gained from seeing other places in the world is something that cannot be learned in a classroom. It is something that means just as much as any class that can be taken in college or high school.

For a quick example of how this can be, a Lonelyplanet.com post (a popular traveling website) described how every moment in a foreign country seems like two moments in real time. “… a week in Guatemala seems to last as long as three weeks in Outer Banks – in a good way.”

If a person feels their time has doubled, it is undoubtedly caused by the amount of experience and thinking comprehension that has happened during that time. Meaning that a night at Palomar College may not pass quickly, but the memory of the classroom will only make it seem as if one was there for two seconds. However, the memory of hiking through Costa Rica on a trail that did not have an exact destination seems like a lifetime. And anyone who has ever been an exchange student knows the saying, “it’s not a year in your lifetime, it’s a lifetime in a year.”

Besides the undefinable benefit of stumbling upon a better understanding of yourself and your own surroundings, one can count up the other advantages gained by traveling. Whether it is domestic or international, there are languages learned, old customs realized and understood, as well as friends made and at least different people met.

Still not convinced? In a study conducted at the Indiana University, the theory of what Lonelyplanet.com calls “armchair travel” is proved to be true using a test from a foreign country; just the idea of a test from another country increases the creativity in the responses from students who took test. It was then speculated by the university that planning travel, or even the thought of traveling and placing oneself in a foreign environment, increases creativity as well as self-awareness.

For most of us here at Palomar, this probably all means nothing. Traveling is expensive, and who has the time anyway? College and education are the goals right now, and that would simply be delaying the process and prolonging these “trying” times.

Well, take a closer look at the details. If it’s hard to imagine stepping up to a semester abroad or a semester off to travel, look at the breaks from college. Look at the summer vacation and the winter vacation.

There is time, it just takes a bit of planning and some effort. And if money is your worry, consider planning a trip south of the United States. There are great public transportation options all through Mexico and the countries beyond, plus it all starts about one hour from us here at campus.

The point is, it is February now. It is a great time to start planning summer travels. Hopefully now there is sufficient motivation to actually pull out the calendar and consider it seriously. And remember, for every minute you spend planning, it will feel like two minutes when you are actually there. It is worth every step.

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Traveling is worth every step