Travel – The Proven Way to Embrace What You Do Not Understand

    Student Success


    Mark Mikelat – College Motivational Speaker


    Mark Mikelat Motivational Speaker for CollegesTravel – The Proven Way to Embrace What You Do Not Understand

    by Mark Mikelat, president of Building Aspirations


    To the recent graduates and soon to be graduated. Enjoy. Celebrate. And, take a deep breath. Here is my advice to you. See the world. Eat food that is weird. Eavesdrop on conversations in strange languages. Experience that which is new. Travel, and most importantly, embrace what you do not understand.

    1) Make a copy of your passport.

    Before you travel, photocopy your passport and leave it with somebody in the states whom you can trust. As you travel, you will learn that the world is safe, yet that does not mean devoid of danger.

    I believe that by their nature people are considerate, kind and honest. Yet, if 99% of the population adheres to this premise that also means that there might be two people in the train station who are waiting to rob you.

    You must protect yourself, but do not live in fear. Try new things. Expand your horizons. Experiment with new ways of thinking. Do all of this and more, and do it in a way that does not endanger yourself. I trust people, but I still lock my house.

    In life you need a support system so that you can protect yourself. Whether it friends, a biological family or your church family, find people whom you can trust. Build friendships with them that are so full of love, compassion and caring that these friendships cannot help but last a life-time. These relationships will protect you.

    2) Go to the out of the way places and skip the tourist traps.

    Many places in the world depend on the tourist dollar. Countries market places of interest to drive tourism traffic. You must decide for yourself, what a place-of-interest is, and what a tourist trap is.

    I recall my excitement at my first trip to the Louvre in Paris. I, like millions of other tourists, was drawn to see the woman of all women. With her mysterious smirk, half-smile, the Mona Lisa was an alluring and enticing figure. My travels through Europe would simply not be complete until I viewed her with my own eyes.

    I remember the day that I first saw her. I was crushed by the discovery that she is roughly the size of a postage stamp. The view room in the museum was packed with hundreds of tourists doing their personal impressions of sardines packaged into a can. But, Mona’s indignity continued. There were tour guides who had megaphones. In the confined and packed viewing area they were shouting over one another to be heard by their tour guests. Like a cockroach on a glue strip, I had been trapped.

    So, you must decide in life. Do you wish to take the standard path that everybody has taken? Perhaps you want to take a different, a less common path, or maybe even create your own path.
    Go to the out of the ways places.

    Do the one-off experiences. I think that you can, should and must create your own path.

    3) Do not get stressed.

    The world does not work by your rules. Just because a shop has a sign that says ‘Open at 9 am’ does not mean that they will be open at that time. You might really need something from the store, and it might even make you angry when they are still locked up tight at 10:30 am. Being angry will not cause the shop to open.

    You need to be flexible. Things will be different. Things will be inconvenient. Things will be strange. Do not confuse this with wrong. Just because you are not familiar with it, does not mean that it is wrong. You must adapt to the situation. You will get a menu that you not will be able to read. You will not be able to find an ATM and the trains may not run on schedule. You need to adapt.

    Your life will be like this. Your career path, if you know it, will change. Where you live now will change. Your significant other may change too. Sometimes changes can be frustrating, scary, or even tragic. The death of a loved one is never easy. Yet, you must adapt. You can be frustrated, sad, and angry, but those feelings cannot live with you. A short burst of stress helps relieve pressure, but lingering stress creates headaches, ulcers and death. Getting mad does not accomplish anything, except perhaps make you sick.

    The world will not adapt to you. You must adapt to the world.

    4) Have a basic paper map with you.

    Have a map. I know that you have a phone that has the power to summon cabs, find restaurants and predict the weather. Yet, it does not have the ability to function without power, or a phone network. You need a map. Have a basic paper map. It weights almost nothing, costs 1/50th the price of your phone and it will save you when you are lost.

    Sometimes things in life will fail you. The car will not start. Somebody will steal your credit card. You will lose your keys. You will lose your job. You might lose your wife or your husband, and in your life, you are almost assured to lose your mom and dad.

    Have a map to help you; your value system. Whatever the situation in your life, your value system will help guide you. Know who you are and what you believe, and your values will always bring you back home. You will never be lost.

    God is, and continues to be number one on my values list.

    5) Spend money on the experiences FIRST.

    In your travels you will see nice things. Those nice things will always be there. The experiences might not be there again. You might have one chance in your life go to an outdoor concert in Prague. Spend the money on tickets.

    In the United States, we are a spend, spend, spend society and this buying addiction fuels our economy in a frustratingly destructive way. Social behavioral scientists have proven that we get more pleasure from experiences then items, yet we continue to purchase the things.

    Please do not mistake this as encouragement for frivolous spending. I advocate for just the opposite. Make your purchases on experiences that align with who you are. If you buy a shirt, a car, or anything because a celebrity on a commercial says that you should, you will, more often than not, be unhappy with your purchases.

    6) Be nice.

    Mom was right. You should always be nice. A comprehensive study of cultures all across the globe was perform and it documented that only one type of body language is universally understood: a smile. Be nice to people.

    Treat others the way that you would like to be treated. When you are traveling there will be crowds. People might even push you around while you are waiting in line at the train station, or jump in front of you to grab a table at a crowded cafe. Kill them with kindness.

    I understand that they are being rude to you. Yes, you waited patiently, and it is not fair that they jumped in front of you. I assure you that this will happen 10,000 more times in your life. Be the bigger person. Continue to treat everybody with kindness, and I promise it will all come back to you. People will see that you are kind, consider and nice and they will reward you for it.

    7) Embrace What You Do Not Understand

    When you are traveling, the world’s wonders await you. You will see things that you have never seen. You will hear languages that you have never heard. You will eat foods that you cannot, and perhaps do not wish to identify. You will not understand things. Do not stress about it. Embrace that which you do not understand.

    Do not get mad, stressed, or frustrated. You will get lost. You will get ripped off. You WILL have bad experiences. This is all part of it. You are going on a journey of discovery. Embrace that which you do not understand.

    In your life, you will not understand. To you women, you will not understand men. To you men, you will not understand women. To the boss, you will not understand your employee. To the employee, you will not understand your boss. Embrace that which you do not understand.

    Life has many twists and turns, and even the best laid plans can be turned to ash with the flash of a lightning bolt or washed away with the wave of a flood, or made illegal with the swish of a pen that enacts a new law. Not everything in life can be reduced to an equation of clear inputs and outputs and certain predictions. Things will change. You must understand, appreciate and never forget this fact.

    Live your life. Make a life philosophy for yourself and live by it. Understand your value system and what drives you. Speak to others. Learn their stories and appreciate them not for their similarities to you, but rather their differences.

    See the world, travel, and embrace that which you do not understand.

    About the author

    Mark Mikelat, is an author and in-demand motivational speaker at colleges nation-wide. He is the author of the Aspirations message, a personal empowerment plan that breaks down huge goals into achievable tasks. College students have raved about this program, How to Get a Job Over Lattes, a career development plan that provides students the success recipe to be more than a resume in the job application process. Please contact Mark Mikelat here to learn more about hiring him to speak to your college campus.

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