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In this episode (recorded on a car journey, sorry for the audio quality), we discuss the extent to which travelling, and living in different countries for extended time periods, actually broadens our horizons. Our guest Suhail talks about his experiences moving to the UK from Pakistan, and then Suhail and Taimur discuss the ways in which living in the USA has (or hasn't) broadened their own life perspectives.
Some of the highlights from our discussion:
When you move away, your life can go one of two ways. You can either try to remain very attached to people you’ve known and call your friends every day and try to keep yourself in the same social group, almost in denial of trying to integrate. Alternatively, you can try to forget about doing that day to day catch up and try to spend more time investing and integrating where you are and getting used to a new lifestyle. On a micro scale you do that when you go to university but moving abroad is a macro version of this and brings multiple benefits.
Moving to a new place allows you to break out of a routine and social bubble that you’ve been in and redefine the kind of person that you are. Exposure to different cultures, views and ways of living quite literally broadens your cultural and social horizons as you become more aware of how people operate in different countries. It differs from simply going on holiday because moving forces you to immerse yourself beyond simply the surface-level appreciation that you might glean from being a tourist.
The social environment influences what is discussed and can alter your thinking. If you go and live in a place for a few months, the sort of things that you discuss when you are around friends changes as well. Suhail recalls hearing conversations about start-ups and entrepreneurship when at MIT whereas at Cambridge conversations seemed to be less practical and revolve more around philosophy.
In this way, travel expands your box. When you are around people where the topic of discussion is something previously alien, this can quickly become normal simply through continuous exposure to that particular thing. For instance, using Suhail’s example, the idea that one day you might start a business might have seemed very alien before going to MIT but it quickly became more normal, expanding the box and realm of possibility. In a separate example, Ali talks about this in relation to how the exposure he’s had to business and YouTube through the podcasts he listens to has made that realm seem more normal. Without that exposure it’s not something that you might ordinarily think about pursuing.
The horizon broadening can equally come from physically living and interacting with other people. Living with people will invariably result in disagreements or discussions but productive disagreement with people can be beneficial as it allows you to understand how other people think and try to navigate a path towards forging a mutually agreeable state.