The most enlightening experience I have ever had was the day I first became a minority. Culture shock is a real thing. The first time I traveled to a non-white, non-English-speaking country was when I spent several days in Morocco. There, I was truly an outsider, and stood out like sore thumb.
I went to a restaurant expected to get food. I did not realize I had arrived on the last day of Ramadan.
I went to shops expecting to pay a standard fee. I was not prepared for the rigors of haggling.
I rode a camel. I ate tagine. I spent time among the Berber people. I learned not to give people money even if they put a monkey on your head.
Being a minority and recognizing that you are outnumbered is a humbling experience. The stereotypical American tourist doesn’t experience travel that way. They expect the world to cater to their whims and to change for them. Their comfort is paramount. Don’t be that person.
Embrace the new and the weird and the wonderful. Be aware that a culture is much older and much harder to change than your own mind. Learn what it means to be someone else.
The best thing that travel teaches is empathy. Care and compassion for humanity no matter where they were born or what they believe is a value that cannot be measured, yet we can tell when it is in short supply. There is nothing greater than recognizing your own insignificance in the world and that the world really does not care at all what you think of it.
Do the world a favor. Do yourself a favor. Learn what it’s like to be a minority. See the challenges. Recognize the discomfort. A better you will return home.