Traveling to a new place inevitably exposes you to a different culture. Even traveling within your own country can provide eye-opening experiences that challenge your assumptions and shape your perspectives. As Mark Twain once said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”
When we step outside our cultural bubbles and comfort zones, our behaviors and ways of thinking often shift, whether consciously or subconsciously. The little things that locals consider perfectly normal may surprise foreign visitors. And visitors’ actions can also perplex locals. Misunderstandings ensue.
But the beauty of travel is that it pushes you to question the reasons behind cultural differences. Curiosity sets in. You start to understand why people from certain backgrounds think or act in a particular way. Empathy grows, judgments fade.
Moreover, extended time spent living abroad has been linked to changes in personality, behavior, values, and even cognitive processes. Studies show that international experiences boost creativity and decrease intergroup bias.
The phenomenon of travel-triggered behavioral shifts also applies within countries, between urban and rural areas or affluent and impoverished neighborhoods. Assumptions can abound on both sides. Connection sparks understanding.
At its core, culture forms beliefs. Travel dissolves misbeliefs. It plants seeds for new ones. Perspectives widen. Minds open. And increasingly, in this interconnected world, cultivating this understanding of, and bridge between, cultures benefits all global citizens.