Top 10: What I learned to appreciate after traveling abroad


Jolica Domdom

A shot of a dirt road while driving around Bangalore, India.

By Jolica Domdom, Staff Writer

This past summer I traveled to Shanghai, China for an internship opportunity with a Chinese skin care and cosmetic company. After completing my first day, I was so ready to head back to the hotel that I carelessly hopped on the wrong subway and ended up in an unknown area far away from where I was supposed to be. With Shanghai being the sixth most populated city in the world, I felt so small and helpless while asking people for help. No one spoke English and turned me away when I asked for directions. I had no way to contact my friends to let them know where I was because I had no Wi-fi or Internet access on my phone. For almost two hours, I was lost in this overpopulated city.

Just like many people I took for granted what I normally had, which in this case was Wi-fi. After traveling abroad to China and India for six weeks, I learned to be more appreciative and grateful to these essentials such as:

1. Wi-fi

The most frustrating part of traveling was the uncertainty of having access to the Internet. Because I had no Wi-fi the majority of the trip, I felt disconnected from my friends and family back home. I was unable to check my social media and most importantly, I was unable to contact my friends when I was lost in the city.

2. Clean water

The tap water in China and India contain bacteria from waste, sewage, and pollution from the environment. Unlike America, sanitation laws are not strictly enforced in China and India. This left the water contaminated and unsafe for us to drink. We had to purchase water bottles throughout our entire trip.

3. Washing machines and dryers

We had to physically hand-wash our clothes while traveling abroad. However, the sink water was so filthy that our clothes remained smelly after washing them. Even the texture of our shirts felt grimy from the polluted water. We also had to hang our clothes around our hotel rooms, but most of the time there was no air circulation and our clothes would stay damp for days.

4. Bathrooms

America is known for having sit-down toilets, also known as western toilets. In other countries such as China and India, toilets are placed directly on the ground. It was difficult to focus on squatting over the toilet because I was not used to having to put that much effort into using the bathroom before. In India, people had to pay between 10 to 15 rupees to use the restroom. Worst of all, most public bathrooms had no toilet paper.

5. Personal Space

China and India are both overpopulated with people. China has an estimated population of over 24 million, while India is at 1.2 billion. While traveling to my internship every day, I felt so claustrophobic because I was constantly pushed and shoved while in the subway station.

6. Food

By the fifth day I was in China, I was sick of eating dumplings. By the third day in India, my stomach could not handle another bite of curry. We had to be very cautious of what we ate while traveling. Dairy products such as milk, ice cream, and cheese were off limits because the bacteria they contained. We were also restricted from eating any fruits and vegetables sold by street venders in order to prevent us from getting sick.

7. Accessibility

In America, it is convenient to go to the nearest store and find everything you need. While exploring China and India, it was much harder to get access to basic necessities such as medicine, toiletries, and snacks. Aside from those items, banks, ATMs, and public bathrooms were also hard to find.

8. Having control

Many times I felt that I had no control especially when it came to the language barrier. During my internship, I struggled communicating with my Chinese boss because he spoke little English to me. In some ways, I felt disabled because it was difficult for me to understand what my tasks and duties were at my internship.

9. Education

Children who live in the slum areas of India have a low chance of getting an education because their parents cannot afford to send them to school. The ones in India who are lucky enough value their education, verses those in America. Students in the U.S. will do anything to miss a day of school, while those in less fortunate countries would do anything to sit in a real classroom for one day.

10. Opportunities

Visiting countries like China and India opened my eyes to the fact that I am fortunate enough to be able to make my own choices in life. During my travels in India, I saw young women doing housework and small children unable to attend school. It made me realize that I have been taking for granted the blessed life that I have in America, and the opportunity to live the life that I want to live.