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Why More Canadians Should go Abroad? What travel can do for the Canadian identity?

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It’s no secret that going abroad, whether it be to study, work, volunteer, or even play, is becoming more popular than ever. As the saying goes, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”

And sure, doesn’t hopping on a plane and heading off to another country sound like fun? Think of all the Instagram-worthy shots there will be; and all the jealousy-inducing Snapchats of food you can send to your friends back home!

The truth is that travelling will give you international experience that is incredibly valuable at so many levels. As Canadians, we pride ourselves on our multicultural and diverse country, but what do all those cultures look like away from home?

Internationally, Canada is known quite simply as ‘nice.’ On the side, we play a lot of hockey, drink lots of Tim Horton’s and maple syrup (usually not at the same time), and have the occasional moose or beaver show up in our backyard.

Ever heard of the whole ‘Canadians living in igloos and riding on polar bears to school’ shtick? It’s laughable, isn’t it? Well, how about the fact that a large part of our national identity is manufactured by the grand franchise of Tim Horton’s?

The lack of awareness of Canadian identity isn’t just ignorance from the rest of the world; In fact, it starts at home. Our national identity is the result of an ethnic melting-pot and the copious influences of various other cultures like the British, French, and of course, American. As a result, we find it difficult to truly define Canadian culture.

When it comes down to it, what makes Canadians, Canadian?

The way to go about answering this, of course, is by expanding your worldview through international experience. When we gain a global perspective through travel, we can better see what sets Canada apart and what we have to offer to the world. It’s the best way to get out of our bubble – to step outside of your comfort zone, so to speak.

What’s more, going abroad will give you true cross-cultural understanding and further appreciation of the diversity we are so proud of here in Canada. It’s this sort of broadened worldview that will also make you a more competitive candidate for professional development in the future.

By leaving Canada, you can become more Canadian—by taking that identity with you and shaping it as you experience the world. It sounds cheesy, but sometimes clichés have their foundations in truth. You can really find yourself through travelling – it all depends on if you’re ready for it.

Contributed by:

Jessie Ho, AIESEC

Jessie Ho is the National Blog Editor for AIESEC Canada. AIESEC is an international, youth-run organization that strives to create international experiences for students in order to develop themselves into self-aware, values-driven leaders. Simply put, we believe that with this global perspective, students can become invaluable individuals in their schools, communities, nations, and eventually, the world. Visit www.aiesec.ca

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