Years ago, when I was backpacking near the Himalayas in Sikkim, I met a man. His name was Marshall. He had been traveling for several months all over Nepal and settled near the Holy Lake Katchipuri where I was also hauled up for a week’s stay. He was soft spoken,,stuck to himself mostly, and had this sort of zen quality to him that the other guests mistook as self-indulgent, but I knew… I could feel his centered-ness and innate sense of belonging without having to put on a show for anyone else. Perhaps it’s because I was becoming that way, too. I was far away from home and yet I had never felt so at home in my life. Traveling had widened my horizons and had both beat me down and built back up stronger than ever before .
I’ll never forget what this 45 year old college professor from the United States, Marshall, told me one fine day in the rolling hills of Lake Katchipuri. He said, “You’ll learn a million times more traveling than you would spending a million dollars on university and graduate school. Save your money and see the world. That is where true education is.”
I value education, in all forms.. but what he said really resonated with me, and I continue to learn from those places and people I encounter all over the world. Travel has been my biggest and most enjoyable way to learn, both land and tongue… and I thank you, from the bottom of my swelling heart.
THIS is precisely why I chose to incorporate global travel into what I do and how I live my life. This is exactly why I am bringing my daughter, Zya with me. She isn’t even born yet and she has already been on a plane across the United States to Colorado and twice to Central America. I have bathed this little baby bump in the crystal waters of Costa Rica and surfed with her in the Pacific. I can tell she already has a liking for this nomadic lifestyle because she became more active in my belly when we were traveling. I always felt really big movements from her when I was looking out at the great ocean from a bungalow at the top a peak in Santa Teresa or when I was gazing out out the mountainous horizon in Boulder, CO. There is something to be said about being out in nature in this way and the effect it has on the brain and body. Of course you can do this in your back yard if you are fortunate to have one, but most of the people that I know in this busy culture don’t take the time to relax in their home town. They are too busy with their lists and things to do. Sometimes it takes global travel to break away from the habits and our busy schedules. It is quite interesting to watch people go through this process on retreats that I have led. It usually takes a few days for them to stop grasping for their daily routine.
I am planning to lead a yoga retreat in Peru this October. My 6 month old will be coming with me. She will begin her global travel education process young. How sweet it is to think that she will be submersed in a culture that is so different than the one she was born into. Global travel for little one’s can be an incredibly beautiful experience for all involved. To know that she will be hearing different languages and feeling the energy of such a sacred space from infancy warms my heart. Even though she may not remember this trip with her mind when she is older, her spirit will. Global travel changed me and continues to. Every time I go away I come back a different person. I am, in all ways, a much wiser and compassionate being.
I believe in the power of education through cultural immersion. Whether you are there on a student exchange or have chose to go abroad because you have a yearning to explore. In a lot of countries, the promotion of something called a, “Gap Year,” is wildly taken advantage of. It is a way for students to decompress after high school and before University. The United States is one of the only places in the world that promotes going straight to college directly after highschool. Why? This can cause burn out! My goodness! Not to mention, going abroad introduces you to a totally different world of possibilities. I met so many students on GAP year while backpacking through India and they were so excited to be given the space to really get to know themselves and learn about a completely new culture by BEING in it.
Through talking to a lot of different travelers through out my travelers, I am always astounded to know that they speak multiple languages. Not just two but often times 3, 4, 5. There is such a diverse culture in Europe that this learning of different tongues begins from an early age. I was astounded to hear perfect accents on 5 different languages coming from one person, not to mention their deep desire and eagerness to pick up new languages from cultures newly explored. They would pick up Hindi effortlessly because of their upbringing in a diverse culture. I would talk to Israeli’s and find out that their parent’s took them on trips abroad from a very young age for long lengths of time and how it changed their perspective of themselves and others. There is a deep need for convergence on this level. We have got to start bringing our kids abroad. We must step out of fear and into the unknown to make a difference for this next generation. This will promote One-ness and collaborative efforts to create sustainable peace efforts that will continue to effect the future generations to come!
There are challenges abroad. The language barrier can create all kind of miscommunication and frustration. I remember trying to navigate the train system with my boyfriend at the time in India. Our Hindi was atrocious, even though we were trying, and while most of them spoke English, they didn’t understand our American accents. We spent hours trying to ask a simple question and finally, my boyfriend tried on his best Hindi accent in English and they were like, “OH, NO PROBLEM, THE TRAIN YOU ARE LOOKING FOR IS RIGHT THERE!” Those are the moments we laugh about because they are priceless. You can’t make that stuff up nor can you repeat it. Every moment that passes is inherently cherished while abroad because they are all so unique.
Don’t miss an opportunity for travel. There will always be an excuse on why not to do it, but this life is meant to be experienced and if you have the ability to go experience it fully, what are you waiting for? I would love to hear how you have been educated through global travel! Please leave your story below!
I look forward to documenting my experience with Zya as she grows up. I will be starting a YouTube channel called, “Raising Zya,” where we will explore alternative ways of living in the world through travel, yoga, exploration, education, love, meditation, culture, and more!
Alana Roach is a International Yogi currently based out of Annapolis, MD. Formerly adorned by the city lights and the busy streets of America, she was then whisked away by the illustrious path of yoga and took to traveling the world to share it with others. A few years back she started to write about the transformation she undertook by practicing conscious meditation. She practices and teaches varied styles of yoga at Ruahstudio.com, leads international retreats, loves surfing, being in nature, and enjoys a good belly laugh. She is on Facebook , Instagram, Twitter, and can be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org