Though we’ve been known to tout the benefits of international student travel (check out our international e-book and lessons from an employee’s time abroad), we believe that perspective-shifting experiences can be obtained through domestic student travel as well. Given the sheer size of the United States and the diversity of its people, domestic travel provides students with ample opportunities to discover new cultures, lifestyles and more.
From Southern hospitality to New York sophistication, New England history to California cool, it is no secret that the regions of the United States possess remarkable differences. Journalist and historian Colin Woodward believes that the North American continent can be divided into 11 nation states based on linguistic dialects, cultural artifacts, political beliefs, values and religious affiliation.
Rural vs. Urban
For many “city kids,” rural destinations can be eye opening. Rural cultures tend to have stronger familial and community ties, reverence for tradition, connectedness with the outdoors and separation from fast-paced consumer mindsets. Students from urban areas also benefit from exposure to agriculture: though the industry is often considered the backbone of America, an unsettling amount of urbanites are completely out of touch with its processes.
Traveling to a city can be similarly valuable for rural students. In an urban environment, students will discover diversity in ethnic and racial backgrounds, political and social beliefs, religious affiliations, lifestyles and more. In many cases, students will also see a more obvious contrast between wealthy and impoverished individuals. In addition to visiting world-class cultural institutions such as museums and performance centers, students traveling to urban areas can benefit from exposure to ethnic neighborhoods.
Cities With Immigrant Influence
Urban areas have high numbers of first and second-generation immigrants, many of whom live in geographically concentrated ethnic neighborhoods. Traveling to these areas can provide students with insights into inhabitants’ countries of origin. In areas with names like “Chinatown,” “Little Italy,” and “the Mexico of the Midwest,” students can hear different languages spoken, eat authentic cuisine and participate in cultural activities.