When we set out to travel, it is often with a busy mind and a hopeful heart. Amidst the anticipation, guidebooks are consulted, weather reports are checked, and lovely screenshots of our destination begin to occupy our desktops. There is purpose in this, but this kind of preparation lacks the intention that has the power to transform a trip into a profound human experience. We travel, of course, to see new sights, taste new delicacies, and to be so deeply stirred that even our old lives may be seen through new lenses. Essentially, we look to gain vital global perspective and enjoy a respite from our regular routines. Yet, part of the beauty of leaping from one’s comfort zone into the unknown is not just the discovery of new lands, but the discovery and the creation of the self and one’s capabilities.

New and uncomfortable situations are fertile ground for massive internal shifts: the realization of dreams, self-reckoning, and the awakening of power. Yet this does not occur merely because of the whimsy and romance of the world; it is deliberate. It is the consequential byproduct of set intention, self-reflection and practice in an unfamiliar situation. Though it may seem like the new and exciting land is the most important part of this equation, it is the deliberate way of being with which one enters this foreign land that remains the most impressive agent of change. It is only through internal preparation prior to travel that this can be achieved.

As someone who has now spent some time living abroad in places very different from the US, I have come to realize just how vital these lessons are, not only in my own self-understanding, but also in merely functioning on a day-to-day basis. In preparing an internal project, I have been able to set an intention that has opened me up to more profound and beautiful human experiences. In practicing my being (a difficult task for a self-proclaimed knower) I find myself at ease and sure in difficult times, and true to myself in others. In reflection I understand myself, my growth and my place. My time abroad has facilitated, necessitated and demonstrated all of this, though it has not created it. I have done that (and I continue to work on it!), quite purposefully, once I had been prepared.