By Erin Scherer
“Most people try to settle into a corner on a spherical planet. Don’t be one of them.”
I stumbled across this quote online the other day and I thought it raised an interesting point. Geometry was never my strongest subject, but I do understand how the geometrics of this quote don’t quite add up. There are no “corners” on Earth, it is spherical. Yet many people seem to get locked into their “corner” of the world for much of their lives, going through their daily routines of working to live which often turns into living to work. But life is bigger than what we do for work, even if it is work we love. I made a commitment to myself a long time ago that I would make travel a priority.
In 2011, I embarked on an adventure that would eventually change my life’s course. I had dreamed of studying abroad in London since I was in high school, and JMU’s renowned study abroad program was one of the primary reasons I decided to attend there. By the time I was a senior at JMU I had saved enough money working as a waitress to make this dream a reality. In the fall of my senior year I, along with 26 others, traveled across the Atlantic to what would become our home for the next 3 months. I was both excited and nervous to be so far away from everything and everyone I knew, but the experience of living in England and exploring a new continent proved to be more meaningful than I had imagined.
Since then, I haven’t stopped planning my next adventure. I went on to explore more of the United States, Canada, Europe, and parts of South America and Asia. I decided to start a blog to record my travel experiences and it has become an integral part of who I am today. (By the way, I definitely recommend taking the time to reflect on and record the important and impactful moments in your life whether that be a journal, a blog, or a memory jar – it is nice to have something to look back on.)
We can only learn so much about other cultures and perspectives from TV, books, and conversations with the people around us. There is something to be said for getting up, leaving, and exploring places beyond your comfort zone. You will learn a tremendous amount about yourself, about your country, and about the world. Your mind will not return to its former dimensions after being faced with contemplating these new experiences. During my most recent trip to Peru I met some of the kindest, hard-working people, saw poverty beyond what I have been exposed to before, and saw world wonders that surpassed any photo I have ever seen online. And I will hold on to these memories for the rest of my life.
It is amazing how small our planet appears when viewed from space. This perspective diminishes borders between people, states, and countries. We are all here together. All neighbors. All one. So leave the comfort of your corner while you are young. Get to know your neighbors around the world. Spend time in nature. See what it feels like to be lost in wonder. And then when you return home to your “corner” of the world you may find you’re not quite the same person as when you left it.
Erin Scherer is a travel blogger and founder of Wonderlost, a website dedicated to sharing travel stories and advice with readers in over 100 countries around the world. You can visit her website at www.wonderlosttravels.com.