If you’ve traveled even once outside of your home country, you’ve probably become awakened to a new way of life. Even going from one Westernized country to another can give you a bad case of culture shock. The accents, the foods, the pace of life…it can all seem drastically different from what you are accustomed to.
But despite all of the disparities, you know that international travel is ultimately a wise choice.
Travel columnists, college professors and wandering nomads have expressed – in some way, shape or form – the value of learning about foreign cultures through firsthand experience. Nothing can open your eyes quite like going abroad.
But, what you might not have expected are the dangers that arise to your own country when you go abroad.
Before you get too worried, we’re not talking about international travelers engaging in radical activities or violent upheavals upon returning to their homeland. Instead, we’re talking about more profound changes. Changes that come about as a result of citizens questioning the way people currently live and proposing new solutions.
You see, once you’ve been exposed to a new culture, you start to learn that everything you were taught growing up might not have been true. Maybe your country isn’t the best in the world. Maybe your country doesn’t have the freest society. Maybe your country’s governmental policies aren’t the most beneficial.
When you see how others around the world live, you start to learn about and appreciate how other ways of life can appear just as good, if not better, than the one that you grew up with.
And this is exactly why international travel is dangerous to your native country.
When you start to question the way things are, you immediately pose a danger to the status quo. And for many, change is a frightening proposition. Even if things end up better than before, there is always the chance that they could be worse. Unfortunately, too many societies and governments focus solely on the uncertainties rather than the advancements.
That’s where you come in.
You, as a traveler, give a large majority of your fellow countrymen (and women) pause. In many cases, it’s not just your willingness, but also your eagerness to unmask the true nature of a country that makes you a rebel. And suspicion, as we all know, is always cast on those who show an inkling of rebellion.
There are 3 unwanted outcomes of traveling abroad – at least “unwanted” according to your home country:
1. You Push a New Way of Doing Things
As previously mentioned, change is difficult for a large percentage of people. Even those who are unhappy and unmotivated in their daily lives would prefer a dull, monotonous routine over something that is fun and exhilarating, but uncertain. Why? Because routine is safe.
When we know what to expect, there is less risk and less worry.
Perhaps, that’s why international travel (particularly amongst U.S. citizens) is still quite low. Those afraid to take a risk are probably terrified of what they might see and do in a foreign country. It’s a step outside of the ordinary.
But that doesn’t stop those who have ventured abroad from bringing back insights gleaned from their international experiences. In fact, if often makes those travelers fervent proponents of different types of regimens and structures. These travelers may have stumbled upon a more efficient way of doing something during their travels and try to incorporate that into their life back home. But the struggle is trying to make others (like family and friends) adopt those changes as well.
Unfortunately, encouraging others to adopt a different way of life – even in just a small instance – can cause a stir. When others are told that a better way of doing something exists, it means that their way is not good enough. And, unfortunately, no one likes to be told that they are only second best. So, don’t be surprised if you encounter some resistance. Some people will always believe it is better to continue with the old, rather than adopt the new.
Maybe it’s tradition, or maybe it’s just stubborness!
2. You Question Everything More
When you are exposed to new societies, you see the ins and outs of how cultures survive and how many thrive. You can’t help but compare your own country’s traditions and structures to those that you see abroad. In many instances you will find a new appreciation for many of the things you took for granted in your home country. But, in some cases, you will also start to question the ways of your homeland.
Working in another country might open your eyes to a new work culture that is more relaxed and focused on employee satisfaction. Volunteering in a third-world country might make you frustrated by the amount of food your fellow citizens throw away on a daily basis. Studying in another country might show you how schools in other parts of the world are educating their students.
When you stop thinking your own country is superior to others, you start to wonder whether your way is the only way.
In many instances, it’s not. From governmental structures…to educational policies…to social issues, you will start to ask yourself if there is a better way of doing things. And, those who start to question what is already in place, tend to shake up the well-grounded landscape.
While it might be bad for those in power, your ability to not simply acquiesce is what will bring about improvements.
3. You Choose to Stay Abroad
While people don’t necessarily like to have someone return from abroad with an agenda to “change” things, they also don’t like to lose a valuable member of their society. Unfortunately, when people aren’t open to change, this is exactly what happens.
When travelers stumble upon a country and culture that seems to align with their own beliefs and ideas about life, some will end up staying in that country.
These may not be the wealthiest or most technologically advanced societies, but for many travelers, that is what matters least in life. Being happy and content is becoming more and more important to travelers.
Unfortunately, this can be a devastating loss to a traveler’s homeland. When the brightest, most creative and most determined choose to plant roots someplace else, it can be a huge loss. Albert Einstein, for example, left Germany prior to World War II and settled in the United States. When your beliefs don’t match those in your home country, you might find greater opportunities elsewhere.
So, should you go abroad? Absolutely. But will your home country always support your decision to do so? Maybe not. Inquisitive minds are often those that bring about the most drastic and often beneficial changes. But unfortunately, that’s not always what others want.
For now, keep traveling and keep learning.
Have you ever encountered resistance from others when you’ve returned home from traveling abroad? Tell us in the comments below.