Everybody speaks of how traveling is a great learning curve. There’s so many people out there that claim it taught them more than any professor or any classroom in any university. Almost all of them are spectacularly correct. Being on your own in a strange, new land, where nothing is familiar and every moment takes you some distance out of your comfort zone, can be quite unsettling & humbling. At the same time, it brings many life-changing lessons.
Recently, I returned from a trip I spent months planning for. I thought I was prepared for everything and had every contingency figured. Yet, there’s no way I could have accounted for getting separated from my friends and being lost in a big, strange city for a good couple of hours. There’s no way I could have accounted for having to spend my last night in a dingy, stinky hostel room, with two weird room-mates, neither of whom willingly conversed. So many of these situations felt scary at the moment, but in hindsight, I realize now it was also part of the thrill – part of what makes travel memorable and part of what makes travel a great teacher. Here are some of my first real travel lessons from my very first independent trip. What were yours?