After arriving and acclimating to our new time zone, our group read and discussed the article, “Why We Travel” by Pico Iyer. Here are some of our thoughts:
When traveling both as a group and individually, we develop heightened abilities to adapt both internally and externally–specifically regarding foreign cultures. The ties we have to our respective homes have the potential to distract us from our goals, which include being present in everything we do; however, with time and open minds, we form a sense of independence that allows us to balance our lives at home with our time abroad. By leaving our notions of “normal” at home, we can begin to learn about others on a deeper level. We are traveling not only to improve our Chinese but also to observe different ways of life, culture, and tradition that we would not otherwise have the chance to experience.
We travel to gain new experiences, immerse ourselves into new cultures, and create meaningful relationships. When we travel, we must forge new relationships with the culture and be present in everything we do. Traveling opens our minds to new ideas that might be different to what we are used to. We leave our comfort zone by trying new things and meeting the local people while remaining independent. Creating a balance between our lives at home and our trip at hand we can better connect with each other. This trip is not only useful to improve our mandarin skills but to observe and analyze the life and culture in a way we normally wouldn’t be accustomed to.
The world is very big, and by strange coincidence, I have landed on one spot and stayed there. By chance, I could’ve been planted in China or Butan or Ecuador. By equal probability, I could’ve spoken Mandarin or Spanish or Hindi. I travel to taste another possible life and the oddities of normal. The customs and traditions of a different me. How a transition of space and time can deconstruct and reveal our sinews; the sprout from our heads and spread down to our feet, intermingling with friends and strangers.