Travel: The Ultimate Learning Experience
What is is about travel (especially to countries other than our own) that makes the human brain sit up and pay attention? What happens inside the brain to make it change itself, rewiring neurons and making new synaptic connections?
First, when traveling to other countries with different languages and cultures other than the ones we grew up with, the human brain cannot go on auto-pilot. It MUST pay attention to the surrounding environment as it tries to make sense out of customs and conversations that are foreign to the ones we’re used to. This creates new connections between neurons and new synaptic pathways that actually make the brain healthier.
Second, travel makes the brain work harder. I for one can confirm my brain often has to work harder when I am trying to find confirmation within that I definitely didn’t forget to turn on our Monitored alarm systems. This often ends in me ringing a very understanding neighbor to check. While this may feel exhausting to the traveler, the brain is like a muscle: it gets stronger when used in new, more challenging ways.
Finally, travel is the ultimate learning experience because it changes us – hopefully, for the better – and gives us a deeper understanding of ourselves and our fellow human beings. In the changing, we often grow to become more than we thought we could possibly be, with untapped potential for creativity and a renewed enthusiasm for life. What a nice surprise!