To my great fortune, I have had the opportunity to travel to many places across the country as well as the nation of Japan. I believe that this travel has been one of the greatest influences on my education and my values. Travel has taught me so many important life lessons in addition to objectives to strive for. I have learned things about respect for people, history, and new ideas; travel has broadened my thinking and kept my mind open.
Japan may be the most apparent place that I would learn about diversity and differences in cultures. As much as this is true, it must also be mentioned that I discovered what conformity is and how it cannot truly forced upon us. There is a Japanese saying, “the nail that sticks up gets hammered down.” Though they are much different than we are, society pushes them to be the same. As much as this is forced upon them, every youth strives to be different and refuses to conform. I believe that man was meant to be different and the human spirit cannot be forced to follow a predestined path.
Another thing I learned from my visit to Japan was efficiency. Though they are not fascists, their trains run on time. One of my father’s favorite stories is the one of how I lost my luggage on the way over. Within five minutes, there were three people that had notified me that I had indeed lost my luggage and that it was still in San Francisco, and they would get it to wherever I was going by that time the next day. As they promised, it came to me the next day. Not only are they extremely efficient, but also they work hard to impress. My favorite example of Japanese efficiency is their numerous vending machines that seemingly have everything including soft drinks, liquor, coffee, cigarettes, ice cream, food, toys, and cell phones. I learned that one of the best ways to impress society is to conform by being clean, efficient, and to hide your differences.
Japan is also home to buildings that are over a thousand years old. Where I live, there are few buildings that stand the test of time for over a hundred years; so just grasping the concept of seeing something that has existed for so long and has been through so much is astounding. There are temples and shrines are right next to buildings that have been built less than a decade previous. There is no suggestion that they might be torn down or changed, they are respected and visited daily. This has helped me to form my respect for history and diversity.
Throughout my travels, I have learned many things that have made me the person today. By and large, my trip to Japan is one of the biggest and most important things that I have done in my life. Without these travels, I am sure that I would not be the same. They have influenced so much throughout my life that they have given me many of the ideals that I fight to keep today.
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