Why you should immerse yourself abroad

Quinn Robinson-Duff, Opinion Columnist

Experiencing different cultures around the world is a must in life. It opens yours eyes to perspectives and ideals that you may never have thought of. Growing up, you get to see and study the world through textbooks and class but are not often given an opportunity to visit a country vastly different from what you are used to in your everyday life. Being able immerse yourself in a culture through travel does not even compare to reading it in a book, which does not do it justice. 

Over spring break, I had an unbelievable opportunity to go to Japan and travel across the country. In seven days, I ventured to seven different cities, each one as incredible as the next. It was a chance to learn and experience a new culture first-hand, something I have never done before. Seeing religious shrines, temples, markets and other aspects of Japanese culture was breathtaking and life-changing.  

Traveling abroad caused me to go outside my comfort zone and see the world from an alternative perspective. The people and traditions of Japan opened my eyes to the other side of the world. I know for a fact that I see the world differently now and above all realized how little we know.  

You can only learn so much through textbooks but when it comes to comprehending and understanding them accurately, well that is only possible interacting and diving right into the culture. I learned about Buddhism and Shinto, the two main religions in Japan, which is something I had the opportunity to learn about and see in action in person.  

In the Unites States, while we do have an abundance of different religions, the main influence is Christianity. I was raised Catholic myself and went to Catholic schools most of my life, so I was never exposed to different religions.  

Being in Japan, including walking through temples and shrines, seeing monks pray and learning about the history and ideals broadened my perspective. I fell in love with it all but this is just the beginning. 

After traveling to Japan, I felt a deep connection with the country and have decided to study abroad there for a year. Traveling makes you realize how much more is out there outside of the small town of Grand Forks, North Dakota. There is knowledge and wisdom to be gained from everywhere and creates a drive in us to keep on exploring and adventuring. The journey to discover the unknown will keep us curious as we venture around the world. 

I want to visit as many different countries and talk to as many different people as I can in my lifetime. Going abroad is an experience and a journey of a lifetime that I encourage everyone to do in their life. They will learn more about people and themselves than they ever believed they could. It opens doors and perspectives to everyone that isn’t afraid to venture far from home. 

Quinn Robinson-Duff is a columnist for Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]