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Why Travel?

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During your university life, it is likely that you will receive some kind of encouragement to travel, study or work abroad. It may seem like you have a lot going on so you don't seriously consider these opportunities or maybe you write them off since you plan on traveling later in life. Traveling at any age is great, but the earlier you can learn the lessons travel teaches the better.

When you are young you are still finding yourself and preparing for your school and career. The skills and experience you gain from traveling abroad can give you life-long personal benefits as well as a leg up in the professional world. During your university years, you have the luxury of having flexibility since you can study anywhere in the world and have relatively long study breaks. It is a prime time to take advantage of your freedom and youth.

So here are top 6 reasons you should travel abroad while you are young:

1. You'll Get out of Your Comfort Zone
As young people most of us have a pretty established comfort zone. At home with mom and dad, in a community that has known you for probably a good part of your life. You have your established, friends, activities, hangouts and possibly jobs. We become comfortable in these daily roles and the idea of breaking out them can be scary and uncomfortable.

The problem is, you learn the most in uncomfortable, unfamiliar situations. In your daily routines, you know how to act and respond to people and your surroundings. Being in a new place, with different people, who hold different values and go about life differently (or not so differently you may find) strips all that familiarity away.

It can be scary, but once you figure out that you can connect with people despite differences, and you can navigate foreign environments, you become a smarter, more competent individual. Embrace the discomfort. Search for it, because it is helping you grow.

2. Traveling Builds Confidence
As you conquer the obstacles of figuring out how to use public transit in a foreign country, or asking for simple things in a grocery store, you are building a confidence and ability to adapt in foreign situations. You realize that you CAN do things, despite the obstacles and suddenly the obstacles seem less obstructive and more like welcomed challenges.

3. You Make New Friends
It's much easier to make new friends on the road than it is at home. When people are away from home, there seem to be less boundaries to cross and making friends becomes much easier, whether it's a local curious to know where you've come from or a fellow travellers keen to have someone with whom to enjoy hanging out or even share a taxi. Social interactions make us happier and increasing our social circle means that we're talking more and meeting different, interesting people, which hopefully means we're learning more, too.

4. You Will Develop Cultural Sensitivity
Being culturally sensitive is key in our globalizing world. It is not enough to say "people from X country are like this." It is important to look for underlying values that may explain a certain behavior in order to practice cultural sensitivity.

Being aware of cultural values and norms is not only fascinating, but can help us understand international issues and conflicts, or even relate to the cultural norms of a foreign business partner. It is an important skill to be able to shift perspectives and see where someone else is coming from. Cultural sensitivity will help you with your communication on both business and personal levels.

5. You Can Adapt to Globalization
Whether you like it or not, with the internet and social media, we are globalizing quickly. It is not unlikely that you would end up with a job that has you travel for business or take part in conference calls with international business partners. In our globalizing world it is important to be culturally sensitive and it can't hurt to know a foreign language. In the business world, having lived abroad can give you a competitive edge. Use the confidence and cultural sensitivity that traveling helps you develop and help it make you successful.

6. Education and New Experiences
Whether it's learning a new skill such as cooking Thai food or learning a new language, travel presents ways in which we can further our knowledge and education. Learning makes our brains more active, which psychologists have found increases our level of happiness - particularly when learning something we find enjoyable. Furthermore, recalling memories of happiness can sustain a feeling of contentment long after the moment has passed, and new experiences are memories that can stick with you forever.