When you hear the word education and learning the first visual image is that of a classroom. Why is that? Because over the years our system of training and learning has begun and ended in a classroom. Somehow my best memories from growing up have always been and will remain of all the outdoor activities I was involved in. Be it going for a trek, mid term vacations or just simply going for nature walks in biology class. The most interesting thing was, that I still remember everything that I learned during these excursions. I remember the names of flowers and trees because I touched and felt them, I remember the people I met on my treks because I sang songs with them while cooking Maggi at the end of a long day of trekking, I remember forming close bonds with strangers through shared experiences. There was much to learn through all of this.
Here is what I have to say. One of the best ways to learn is through travel. Get out there, be on the job and learn on the road. Fortunately now, times have changed and we exist in a time where it is easier for people to get out of their comfort zones and travel to places that could be nearby or to far away lands. Here are some of the reasons why travelling is now turning into a magnificent way to learn.
Open your mind to new experiences. I always try and ensure that I travel a little bit on my own every once in a while. You see when I’m out there on my own I am outside my comfort zone and outside my network of friends and family. This means essentially that I am forced to strike a conversation with random strangers and connect with people. When you are on your own you aren’t performing for anyone other than yourself and that helps build your confidence levels in interacting with people and at the same time it introduces you to different experiences and mindsets. You are forced to find similarities between yourself and other people as compared to differences in order to be able to connect, which in itself is the first step towards building strong ties and learning how to socialize.
Self discovery. Each time I travel I learn a little bit more about myself. Each time I push myself to do something that I thought I would not be able to do ordinarily I realize that I can do that and find myself setting a new target. It’s quite simple, anything that I find myself hesitating to do, I ensure that I do it. Whether it’s rock climbing for the first time, skydiving or any other thing that makes you pause and hesitate. On a very simple note, I never used to walk into a restaurant to eat alone. I was afraid that people would think I had nobody to eat with. This was till I once decided that no matter what, I had to overcome this hesitation. I was in a new place on an assignment and I walked into this lovely German bakery alone and ordered myself the best meal possible. Within a few minutes of my being there I had a couple who was on vacation asking if they could join me and we ended up having a wonderful fun evening together while all cultural differences melted away with overcoming the first barrier of hesitation.
Get inspired, get curious and get hungry. One doesn’t always have to go looking for inspiration. Just stay open minded and ready to absorb experiences like a sponge and inspiration will find you. Sometimes when I walk though ancient monuments built many thousands of years ago I find myself in awe of the fact that many great minds might have walked that path before me and the colossal effort that must have gone into building something that became an integral part of the history of mankind. That realization is enough to spark off your curiosity and the need to learn more about the path you walk takes over and allows you to explore further.
Collecting precious experiences and memories. I once had his Holiness, the Dalai Lama sit in the adjacent seat when on an aircraft. I was unaware of the fact that the seat was his till his security requested me to shift in order for them to be closer to him. It was those once in a lifetime moments that I was just not ready to give up without a try so I asked his Holiness directly if he would allow me the pleasure of sitting next to him. He just smiled and asked his security to sit elsewhere. I have not had a more memorable or a richer experience. We spoke about life, the Tibetan struggle and I showed him the work that I had done while photographing his monastery. The real learning came from observing him and hearing him talk with that sparkle in his eyes that had more positivity than even a child. I saw a man that was truly at peace and had the power to bring humaneness into humanity. I could not have learned this in a classroom.
Classroom learning does have some undeniable benefits but as travel is now becoming more and more accessible to people it is also turning out to be one of the best ways to enrich one’s experiences and help build character. There is no age for learning. Travelling and seeing new worlds helps one in becoming a more fulfilled human being, while learning how to appreciate, respect and value their surroundings and other individuals. The adventurous spirit and that hunger for knowledge is what keeps us alive and it needs to be fed through new experiences in order to strengthen the human spirit. No matter what you do, you will never come back poorer of knowledge at the end of a journey.
About the author: Neha Parmar is a wildlife photographer and a conservationist with some tolerable talent for writing. If you liked, connected or have a contrary perspective with anything that you read please feel to share your feedback.
To see more work by Neha Parmar https://www.facebook.com/NehaParmarPhotography.
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