I traveled to Costa Rica when I was 16 years old with my school. It was one of my first experiences traveling internationally, and since then I have traveled to, and lived in, twenty-three countries. Exposure to other countries has enriched my life and professional development. Exposing your teen to world travel can jump-start their career paths, build empathy, and expand their worldview.
My Real Education
I received my bachelor from Wake Forest University, although my real education came from the experiences I had as I traveled. I visited Italy during student protests and learned about the educational laws and benefits provided to students attending University in Italy. I studied in London where walked the cathedrals mentioned in Chaucer’s work, attended Shakespeare’s plays at the Globe and visited important cultural festivals at Stonehenge. I worked with Burmese refugees in Thailand and grappled with the issues facing a post-genocide nation in Cambodia. Seeing first hand the things I had only read about briefly in school textbooks took my understanding and empathy past the classroom. It allowed me to fully understand these issues and how it effects populations by fully immersing myself in cultures outside of my own.
In addition to expanding my worldview, I also decided to travel abroad as a way to aid my professional résumé. As technology continues to advance and connect our world in more efficient ways, the workplace is becoming global. More and more workspaces are remote, and soon it may be normal to have a co-worker who lives across the globe.
Having international experience is invaluable to employers because it demonstrates the ability to work across time zones, embrace cultural differences, and communicate with people who come from different backgrounds and native languages. In general, American students tend to lack global skill sets compared to their international peers. International experience can automatically set your teen’s résumé above the rest.
I find myself testing the limits of my comfort zone and finding new ways to challenge myself to continue to grow as an individual. Experiencing a country as an outsider has been deeply impactful. I never appreciated the difficulty it takes someone to communicate with you in a foreign language until I was asking for directions in Costa Rica, struggling with my rudimentary Spanish skills. The difficulties of navigating a new country allowed me to build resilience and empathy for others.
Traveling transforms the way we interact with the world, and encouraging your teen to experience another country may be one of the most valuable ways to enrich their personal and professional development.
About The Author
Ashton Alayne grew up working professionally in Theatre across the country, this sparked her love for traveling. She has used her international experience to develop a non-profit that provides after-school programming in the arts for Burmese refugees, career counseling for children of immigrant parents, and educational infrastructure consulting in developing nations like Cambodia and Thailand. In her spare time she can be found reading or writing, hiking, or binging murder mystery podcasts.