Tori Fisher / Gavel Media

The Hidden Benefits of Being Well-Traveled

It’s summer, and Instagram and Facebook are flooded with pictures from exotic, envy-inducing locales. And although the sheer thought of laying out on a beach or sitting outside a cafe in a foreign city is sometimes all we need to book that plane ticket or sign up for a study abroad, if you know what to pay attention to, your travel can be much more than some great social media posts and a good tan.

Travel has always been popular, today more so than ever. And there’s a reason for its staying power: travel is good for you. According to Forbes, taking time to travel can improve us in  “physical, cognitive, and social” ways. Having better physical and cognitive health allows us to age more healthily, and both are promoted by regular travel. Furthermore, it puts us in situations that give us new exposure, and teaches new perspectives.

These notions are echoed in an article published by USA Today, which spells out a few of the ways travel helps to educate us. From history to literature to language, traditional school subjects are bolstered by travel; it’s one thing to read about a war or piece of art, but another to see places you read about first hand.

However, the article also mentions some less scholastic fields that one reaches an education in when traveling: our perspectives and insights are nurtured and grow when we experience new places and people.

These are the benefits that accompany any form of travel, presumably just a week-long vacation. For many BC students, travel turns into study abroad—either for a summer, semester, or year—and the long-term stay that allows anyone to make the travel location a new home is expressly more beneficial.  

Among the scores of travelers across the world at any given moment are BC students. The BC mission lends itself to an inclination towards travel; the attempt at holistic education is very much something that can be achieved through the act of traveling, as hinted at by USA Today.

This summer BC offered 23 summer courses in 15 locations around the world, some of which had waitlists, proving travel’s popularity and appeal.

One summer course being offered currently is “Politics and Oil in the Gulf,” in which students are spending four weeks in Kuwait. Matt Baldwin, MCAS ‘18, is currently a student there, spending a month the furthest away from his home in Massachusetts than he has ever traveled before.

Having been in the Middle East for a little over two weeks, Baldwin has come to appreciate and recognize the positive effects travel has. He explained that travel “helps [him] to realize that we are all equal on this earth and have much more in common than we might initially believe.”

The BC Office of International Programs states that one of its missions is to “prepare students for an increasingly interdependent and culturally diverse world,” something that Baldwin has found to resonate with him since arrived in Kuwait. He explained that he’s begun to find more confidence and learn how to find common ground with people of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

Also studying abroad this summer is Gianina Chua, MCAS ‘18. Chua is in Parma, Italy, taking the course titled “the International Law of Food,” a law/politics/international studies course dealing with everything from trade to global hunger and food security.

A Filipino national who lives in the US, Chua is not unfamiliar with differences in cultures around the world, and recognizes the importance of travel. “It makes you realize that we are all one human race above all,” she shared.

For Chua, she has found that studying abroad also gave her an education in something unexpected—she’s learned a lot more about herself. She imagined all the adventures she would have in Italy leading up to the trip, but has now found that she is more introverted, and a little less of the adventurous risk-taker she had assumed she was.

Learning her habits and characteristics have been an important part of being abroad, and goes to show that traveling is a lot more than its face value; travel educates us on the world and people around us, gives us new insights and appreciation for our world, and helps us grow as people.