"The world is a book & those who do not travel read only one page.”
- Saint Augustine
Original Text: If you are fortunate enough to have travel opportunities come your way, take every one of them! Even a simple road trip can be a wonderful opportunity to broaden your horizons, and increase your frame of reference by gaining a bit of culture. Most colleges have travel experiences as part of the curriculum for gaining college credit. I traveled to Canada, Belize, France, The Netherlands, Germany and the Grand Canyon during my college years and I treasure these experiences.
Commentary: White walls serve a purpose. You can learn a great deal within the confines of four white walls...and you absolutely should. But, the traditional "brick and mortar" classroom is certainly not the only kind of classroom that you should experience. Just ask any of my former students and they will tell you (hopefully) that:
Frame of Reference = The sum total of your entire life's experience
Perceptually, your frame of reference is everything. It's how you make sense of the world. It's a lot like a sensory database of everything you have ever seen, touched, smelled, heard & tasted...every seemingly insignificant experience you have ever had. From a cognitive perspective, a wide and diverse frame of reference has a ridiculous impact on communication, creativity, problem-solving skills, relationships, etc... Yeah...it's kind of a big deal.
While traditional classroom learning absolutely increases your frame of reference, nothing compares to the sensory symphony of learning new concepts by experiencing them first hand. I highly recommend it! I took a class called "History and Culture of Germany" during my senior year at Concordia. We had several face-to-face class sessions within the confines of four white walls where we spend a good deal of time looking at slides of German architecture, art, historical sites and the like.
The second portion of the class was a German immersion experience. The entire class traveled to Vechta, Germany and for one month we lived like the Germans live. We lived with German families, ate German food, spoke the German language (me...not so much) & attended the German university. Experience proved to be a most incredible teacher. There was no better way to learn about the German culture than by experiencing it for myself.
I'm not at all German and I don't practice and/or embrace any traditional German customs that I know of (although, I do love a good goulash). However, increasing my knowledge base of German culture also increased my world view, and thus increased my overall frame of reference. Having experienced life the way Germans do gave me a greater sense of who I am as I live the "American life" because it gave me something to compare it to. Frame of reference, my friends...go out and get some!
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor.