Travel: keep an open mind

Sam Bull, Opinion Editor

Travelling to foreign countries can result in two things: resorting to one’s small, introverted bubble without taking in anything that makes that country different, or actually involving oneself in the ways of that country and learning something new. The former can be the easier choice, but the latter is the one that usually results in great memories and knowledge.

I recently visited Scotland with my mother and grandmother, and we stayed in a small town called Kinlochleven for a few nights. I figured I should keep my mouth shut while we were there, because I assumed no one wanted to talk to the presumptuous and arrogant Americans.

We went to a pub for dinner, and immediately my assumptions were reversed. The locals sitting at the bar were not only eager to talk to us about their town and cultures, but also about America and our way of life.

I ended up talking to a rather eccentric heavy-set Scottish man about soccer in Scotland and the culture around it for about a half of an hour. His accent was so heavy and he was so flamboyant with the way he spoke that I couldn’t help but crack a smile every few minutes, but I still learned a lot about his views on soccer’s effects on society and how it’s structured differently in Europe.

If I hadn’t had that conversation, I would’ve been comfortable sitting in my bubble in the corner of the room eating the most American thing on the menu, but I wouldn’t have learned about the views of someone from a foreign place that I don’t think I could’ve gotten anywhere else.

So, when visiting some place new, don’t assume that the locals want to shut you out. Get cultured. Travelling is a privilege, so involve yourself while you can and get to know the things that make the area and people unique.

When offered the chance to eat at a local restaurant, take it. When talking to someone, ask about their way of life. When walking around somewhere new, see as many sights as possible.

I doubt there are many things that result in gained experience and knowledge more than travelling. Reading about other places is great, but actually going to that place and temporarily putting yourself into the culture is truly invaluable.