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Change Your Perspective to Change Your Life

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

Travel can be a mere diversion or a life-changing event. Living & working abroad forever changed my beliefs and my outlook on life. It gave me a chance to literally walk many miles in the shoes of other cultures.

I’ve talked with so many people yearning for more meaning and connection in their lives today…and I am seeing this trend in travel as well. More people are foregoing “Big Bus Tours” where you see the sites, but don’t experience them, for trips that allow more interaction with cultures and people. Independent travel, Airbnb, renting a villa or apartment, and local hosts have become more popular as people seek an intimate and meaningful experience with other countries and destinations.

The year I spent 8 months living in Cologne, Germany was my first experience with time and space to fully enter into a foreign country’s culture and language. Although a major international business city, I was not living with English speakers. During my stay, I was learning the language, renting an apartment and immersed in a very different day to day culture than the USA. Even grocery shopping was an adventure. Instead of a quick trip to the supermarket, I spent much more time shopping as the locals do, on foot, travelling to independent shops for the baker, butcher and green grocer. Food was much more locally sourced and seasonal than I was used to in the US and shopping by foot with a smaller refrigerator, meant buying fresher, smaller quantities, much more frequently.

The luxury of time allowed me to experience Cologne so differently than my previous “vacations.” I could spend hours in the Aldt Stadt (old town) or lingering at a café for afternoon Kaffee and Kuchen. I also met locals who wanted to show me their favorite locations and I loved seeing the country through their eyes.

Living abroad also gave me a new perspective on how other countries viewed Americans, our customs, personality and our politics. After thinking we were the center of the universe, it was eye-opening to see that Europeans often viewed Americans as unsophisticated, loud, self-centered and naïve. Seeing the USA on the news and on TV in foreign countries gave credence

to some of these perceptions and made me look at the US in a new way.

So many things about living in Europe where new for me. The ability to take a train from Cologne to Paris in five hours was amazing for this California girl, who could travel for 10 hours and still be in the same state! Proximity to other countries, languages, cultures & politics impacts the Europeans in a way Americans don’t really understand. It is impossible to be an isolationist in such close relationship with others.

I’ve also experienced this expanded mindset on shorter trips, from working along-side women in a co-operative chocolate factory in the Dominican Republic, to talking to a young woman about growing up in Cuba under the Castro regime. That feeling of connection with others and inside look at other lives changes my thinking about my own life and purpose. The change of perspective that travel affords me is more than entertaining, it expands my perceptions of myself and the world. I am always filled with gratitude for the abundance and opportunities of my life growing up in the United States, but I also bring home new ideas and perceptions. It also continues after returning home, in that I view things differently having experienced such different lives and viewpoints.

In fact, travel is a good prescription for anyone looking to expand their mindset, enrich creativity, or to enhance body, mind, or spirit. For those feeling stuck (emotionally, physically or spiritually) take a trip, large or small. Even a day trip to the beach, mountains or small town can change your energy and outlook. Travel can change your perspective and therefore your life.

March photos:

  • French Market Day. © Kathleen Peters KMP Travel

  • Cuban Child (Pixbay says no attribution required)

  • Chocal Women’s Chocolate Co-operative © Kathleen Peters KMP Travel

  • Chocal Chocolate Bars, Dominican Republic © Kathleen Peters KMP Travel

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