CultureTravel

You’re standing at the foot of a church built in 1147 with colored glass windows like nothing you’ve ever seen before. The air smells like smoke and you can’t understand what anyone is saying. You bounce from restaurant to restaurant, indulging in the local faire, only to find out that “black pudding” isn’t really pudding after all. You never thought you could experience so much joy, terror and excitement all in the course of one day.

This is only one of the experiences I’ve had traveling; equal parts daunting and surreal. I’d had experience traveling in Europe before, just never on my own. But when I was invited to visit my stepbrother in Vienna, my friend and I packed our bags and never looked back.

Having been to eight European countries in the course of my life so far, I’ve embraced the concept of traveling. Not only do I long to see more of the world, but I’m starting to fully understand what travel can teach you. For all the hours we spend in the classroom, there is nothing quite as enlightening and growth promoting as leaving home for a few weeks.

In the time I spent abroad, I learned more about the countries I was in than I ever would have by reading a textbook. I got to witness a type of natural, idyllic beauty that I only could’ve pictured in a dream. In the same week, I took my first subway ride…with signs I couldn’t read, might I add.

Whether you’re journeying to Croatia or Cuba, you’re forced to experience a culture that is nothing like your own. You’ll struggle to communicate with the locals and learn to not fall into traditional tourist traps. You’ll meet people that’ll change you. And, most importantly, you’ll develop a patience and understanding for others that you may not have developed on your own.

As much as I love drinking from coffee cups the size of my head, I realize that not everyone has the opportunity to travel as much as I did. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities to cut the cost of your trip. Eliminate hotel costs by using sites like airbnb or hostelworld. Staying at a hostel gives you the opportunity to meet other travelers, while staying at someone’s home gives you the chance to live like a local.

Another great way to travel is by volunteering or working abroad. What better way to experience another culture than by giving back to the community? Organizations like Volunteering Solutions provide inexpensive opportunities to lend a helping hand, while workaway has a list of hosts who need help with their businesses or routine tasks. Last but not least, check what kinds of study abroad programs your school offers. Many schools offer countless scholarship opportunities, making the trip more affordable than you think.

To this day, I think the most important aspect of traveling is the memories. The rolling hills of Wales, gothic architecture of Prague and wine country of Avignon are all still vivid pictures in my mind. It’s not about the photographs, but the feeling; the part of you that has changed and the part of you that yearns to go back.

Image: Unsplash

Culture

You’ve most likely heard the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” It takes time to build great things. Having patience can be hard when you want to get something done as soon as possible, whether you just want a project to be over or if you are too excited to wait any longer to show people something you’ve been working on. To build something of quality, it may take days, weeks, months, possibly even years. Websites, businesses, class projects, and personal skills and goals take more than just an instant to be created. Take Olympic athletes, for example. Every four years, athletes compete in Olympic competitions that last minutes. These athletes are truly great, and they have been training for years to get to this point. In a way it’s comforting to know that you have time to become something great, and with a little bit of patience and daily effort, you’ll get there.

Skills

With easy access to instant messaging, quick text responses, and the ability to call someone halfway around the world in a few seconds, it feels as though there is a growing immediacy that has been implemented into our lives. We want things now, and if something takes longer than we expect, there’s the possibility that we become angry, anxious, jittery, irritated, and stressed. While having tasks accomplished quickly can be nice, the reality is that not everything happens right away. Projects, studying, learning an instrument or language, and working with others all require a valuable quality: patience. Patience takes practice, and it is a skill that is developed over time. Patience requires, well, patience.

When you feel yourself on the verge of annoyance, try these tips:

1. Breathe. When you get anxious, your heart rate might increase and you might start breathing shallowly. When this happens, take a long, deep breath and exhale slowly. It’s so simple but it really helps.

2. There is a time and place for everything. When you start to get antsy about things happening too slowly or at the wrong moment, repeat this statement to yourself. There is a time and place for everything. Everything we do has its time and it may not be right now in this instant. Trust that there will be a right time and place for what you want to happen, and you’ll find yourself allowing events to take place as they should. There’s no need to rush.

3. Step back and reassess. What is bothering you so much? Is it really that important in the large scheme of things? It’s important to understand when you need to take a timeout and reevaluate the reason why you are feeling impatient. Once you realize what is causing your irritation, you can then deal with each reason one by one without exploding.

4. Distract yourself. When you think about one thing so much, it can drive you crazy. Instead of letting your impatience get the best of you, do something to distract yourself, such as taking a walk, going outside to work on your free throws, or watch a TED talk.

5. Self-reflect. Not only do you want to step back and reassess the situation at hand, but it is also healthy to reflect on why you get worked up about certain things. Are you not getting enough sleep every night? Are you eating foods that are negatively affecting your health? Think about what triggers you and makes you lose your patience.

6. Write it down. One great way to self-reflect is to write everything you feel into a notebook. Jot down every emotion and certain events that made you feel a certain way. Reading through your journal might help you pinpoint certain moments that set you off. Once you know what those moments are, you can work on deep breathing or distracting yourself for next time.

7. Travel. Traveling is a great way to learn patience because when you leave your hometown, or state, or country, you interact with completely new people from different cultures. Learning how other people live can help you better understand why people do certain things. Traveling will help you develop a greater understanding of how to deal and work with others, as well as give you insight about yourself when you are aware of yourself interacting with people unlike yourself.

8. Stay positive. Practicing patience isn’t easy, but it is a very useful trait to develop. Remaining positive when you are frustrated and anxious can be difficult. When you are working with others in a group project or team building exercise, having the patience to talk through any issues or concerns is extremely valuable. Not only that, but learning how to have patience with yourself is a lifelong trait that you’ll most likely use on a daily basis, even if you don’t realize it. Patience takes time, and staying positive will only expedite your ‘patience process.’

How do you practice patience?