In our increasingly globalized and complexly interconnected world, it’s more important than ever for us to reach outside our sphere of influence and tap into the world-wide network. Our world is not just comprised of ourselves and our local context; there are thousands of communities just like ours, with different traditions, languages, businesses and customs, that affect us even when we don’t always realize it.
So, why is it important for you to get outside your comfort zone and experience some of the unique cultures that the globe has to offer? Though it can be anxiety provoking and often confusing, learning about others can help you understand both yourself and the world much better. Most of us wander around life routinely without ever finding out about the huge variety of things that we can engage with.
By trying to honestly understand others from outside of your community, you’ll learn a whole new way to engage your curiosity and begin to understand the global context. It can be a profoundly humbling and character building experience to speak with someone from a different country or take an extended trip out of the country.
Additionally, traveling to other countries or going to local ethnic fairs can help you learn new skills. By experiencing an unfamiliar culture, you’ll learn to be more social, open minded, and can operate independently from your normal community. Staying with a host family in Southern America may help you better appreciate regional Spanish dialects, new flavors, or the way that others think. Just think, how are you going to enjoy your first genuine empanada if you don’t take a visit to southern Ecuador?
Not only do you develop language skills, you are able to expand your circle of friends all over the world. If you’re an accomplished traveler, you may be able to find family friends to crash with wherever you go. Each person has different stories, memories, perspectives, and life insights that could help you more deeply appreciate living mindfully.
According to some longitudinal studies, those who experience more than one culture tend to have much higher creativity than those who don’t. Engaging with a multicultural experience forces you to be flexible and you may realize a new way to solve a problem that you hadn’t thought of before.
It’s never to late to start learning about others and their cultural context. No matter who you are, there are many ways to get involved in the world around you that don’t just apply to your local context.