Opinion: They say traveling makes you open minded, but it has really closed mine

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By Henry Grant, staff reporter

When I was backpacking through Turkey, I stayed with a local family I met through Airbnb. They made me a Turkish breakfast every morning, told me about their lives growing up, and we traded stories. While this provided me with an interesting experience exchanging ideas and beliefs, it didn’t make me challenge my beliefs. In fact, after leraning about how Turks live life, I felt even more strongly that my way of eating, drinking, and being American is just, well, better. At least for me.

This goes against one of the main arguments for travel. One of the main benefits of travel, according to many, is that it makes you more open minded. In seeing how other people live, and talking to people from different backgrounds, you become more accepting of other ideas and lifestyle choices.

When I first started traveling, I was more open-minded than I am now. I knew the way I grew up, and I was very curious about others, and that appetite for the new motivated me.

But now that I have traveled to over 40 countries, I am more set in my ways than before. I’m more confident to be who I am, and I am not going to change for anybody.

Maybe this is different for non-Americans. I could understand how a traveling Russian may visit Europe and America, and their minds are opened to a new (free) world of ideas and experiences.

But here in America, sure things aren’t perfect, but we live the best lives you can live in the world. Why else would everyone be flooding through our borders and yearning for visas to fly here? Is it because we’re just an exotic experience? No, it’s because we are already the most open-minded cultural melting pot in the world and quite possibly the best place to live.

In my travels, I haven’t become more open-minded and accepting of ideas, I have become close-minded and unwilling to change. And I think that’s okay.

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