"Get out of your comfort zone." I cannot count how many times in my life I have heard that sentence. For awhile it became a phrase that would evoke a strong sigh and eyeroll; however, as time passes I've been able to grasp how important this sentiment truly is.
Living in a different country from where I spent my formative years has proven to be a struggle at many times. Yet, I was decently prepared to come to Milan and experienced minimal culture shock. It wasn't until I traveled to Paris that I felt completely removed from all things familiar. Being in a country where I could not speak the language, was ignorant in navigation, and did not know anyone was a trying experience. That being said, I would do it all again in a heartbeat. My short stay in Paris provided a time for deep introspection. What makes me feel empowered? How can I learn from the world around me? What do I want out of my travel experience? These are all questions that I have yet to finalize answers for, but am beginning to gain clarity on.
Recently I was sitting with friends on a train back to Italy when I grasped the value of getting out of your comfort zone, making yourself "uncomfortable", and viewing the world through different paradigms. I realized that the best gift I have ever been given is the opportunity to travel away from home, experience the world from another perspective, and grow in ways I did not realize existed. Outside my world of convenience and familiarity is where growth has taken place.