My neighborhood is full of construction. Loud, ANNOYING road construction that makes it take forever to get wherever you want to go.
Before traveling in Africa, I would’ve seen all those cones and equipment and traffic jams as simply that: annoying.
But after spending time in a place where roads often aren’t paved at all — and if they are, they’re full of potholes and other obstacles — I see construction at home differently. Instead of considering it a hindrance, I see it as a blessing.
While navigating those cones on my way to the gym this week, I thought about how fortunate I am to have been born in a country where roads are paved. And how great it is that when those roads need even minor upgrades, they get fixed. That construction isn’t problem; instead, it’s a sign we’re moving forward.
Travel will do that to you, especially after you discover a place that’s different from your home. Travelers who spend time in developing countries often talk about re-entry shock, about noticing little details when you arrive back home, about being overwhelmed in the grocery store simply because you have so many choices.
It’s true that you become thankful for all the little things immediately after your return to the mother ship. But it’s the bigger changes in perception, changes that affect us over the long term, that really show how much we grow when we step outside our comfort zones.
It’s still appreciating construction a decade after your first trip to Africa that makes you realize just how much travel has shaped who you are.