To begin with, being exposed is relative. I cannot authoritatively define the term “being exposed”. Nonetheless, for the purpose of this write up, being exposed denotes a broad knowledge of places, people’s culture, a way of life, and a wholesome sense of decorum in mannerisms, behavior, relations with people, orientation and mindset. Whether or not travelling far and wide, and visiting different countries and places translates to being exposed is what is being deliberated here.
I used to have a classmate and neighbor when I was much younger who was from a pretty much financially advantaged home. He would spend all holidays abroad and bring souvenirs and pictures to relate all the tales of his experiences to us on his return. He eventually relocated abroad to school for some time.
Over the years however, I watched him and found myself comparing him to other people who weren’t so “privileged”. He was loud in speech, lacked any sense of respect for people and was quite lousy as a person. I wondered if all those vacations and years he spent abroad had a negative impact on his character.
I have come across a number of people (like my “privileged” classmate) that are well travelled, have worked in different continents, schooled in different regions, have diverse extended family members but lack exposure. I want to point out the fact that I am not advocating throwing away your culture. I admire people that are well travelled and are still imbibed in their culture, such as languages and certain decent traditions.
I have met some young people in recent times who unlike my “privileged” classmate, were not born with silver spoons but worked their way through life. Yet, they can be said to be highly exposed due to their vast knowledge, attitude, mindset, and overview of life. They understand other people’s culture, they have an amazing imagination, they speak eloquently (please note that speaking eloquently does not mean having an accent) and are always willing to learn new things.
Some of them have never even travelled out of Nigeria, but when they talk you will think otherwise. They read books, watch movies, keep up to trends of technology/science and maximize the internet use to enlighten their minds. They only lack the firsthand experience of touring the world. This makes me come to the conclusion that exposure starts and ends with the mind!
You are liberal minded because you choose to. You speak well and treat people well as a conscious choice. You learn about places not just by visiting but also by reading and being observant to information concerning those places.
I love travelling and I have come to find that it is a passion of mine. A few people that know that I travel a lot tend to link my level of exposure to the fact that I am well-travelled. I however do not totally agree even though there is some truth therein. As much as my travels have influenced my level of exposure, I do not to think it is solely responsible for my little level of exposure. Some of my friends have the opinion that I am exposed because:
- I enjoy travelling
- My perspective of gay marriage (as a Nigerian) is different: “Hate the sin, not the sinner”. I must confuse that it is extremely difficult to view separate both. (I’m of the opinion that this is influenced by my knowledge and my understanding of the Bible; However, I am not saying being gay is right)
- It’s my belief that men and women are different but should have equal rights (Equity)
- I more often than not know a little about other people’s culture
- The adrenaline junkie side of me
- Communicating and interacting with people from different cultures comes natural (I have a number of non-tribal and non-Nigerian friends)
- My endless thirst for new adventures.
I must state clearly that the aforementioned are definitely not solely to be attributed to my travels. As a matter of fact, I only started travelling on my own about three to four years ago. It’s a combination of conscious self-development, good upbringing, relationships with people and a consistent willingness to learn. My exposure is as a result of my diverse research on different cultures, the movies I have watched, keeping myself abreast of current affairs even though surprisingly I am not so vast with Nigerian current affairs (but I am seriously working on it). I believe the major factor that influenced my thirst for knowledge was a huge, colorful kid’s Encyclopedia my mum bought when I was younger. I think that was when I started developing the zeal to learn more about the world with an open mind.
As far as I am concerned, speaking in a strange accent, copying everything from the western world, constantly addressing anything indigenous as local, being snobbish, lacking respect for people, boasting about how many places you have visited without being able to talk about the culture and lifestyle of the places is definitely not in any way proof of exposure.
I studied for my master’s degree in the United Kingdom and I constantly told my friends that schooling abroad it not just about the education. If you school abroad and you restrict your interaction to people who are from the same country as you (my first major friend was from Pakistan; Umar), the only foods you eat are those peculiar to your country and so on, then, you haven’t gotten any added value for the hard currency that has been spent.
So basically, there are different types of travelers; we have travelers that go to the same place every summer, stay with the same family abroad every summer, look for Nigerian food, only shop and those that stay in their hotels 24/7. These types of travelers are obviously not very different from someone else that has never left the shores of Nigeria. The only thing that might be different is that they have been on an international flight, seen structures outside their country and have a little sense of how things are done outside their shores (not cultural).
Don’t get me wrong there is a level of exposure that comes with traveling. The quote “Seeing something with your eyes once is worth more than seeing it 10 times in a picture” supports it. Travelling opens up your mind to new things and higher glass ceilings to break. We are limited by our imagination, so definitely seeing the world will help open one’s mind/deep knowledge but seeing the world with one’s eyes is not the only way to open our mind.
The main point I am trying to drive here is that do not let anyone make you feel you are not vast in knowledge because you are not well travelled. Yes, being well travelled helps but if you don’t have the funds, you can surf the net, read, see picture, have intellectual conversation with brilliant minds, learn from everything and everyone and the see the world through the eyes of travelers. Most importantly, be open minded. Don’t be left out on the amazing wonders of the world (Ps: you will also find out that the world is also not all gold and glitters, but don’t let that distract you).
Note: My aim on this blog is to encourage travelling because the depth of experience and memories that come with travelling can’t be explained. I starve myself of some pleasures to ensure that I save enough for a trip. Travelling is amazing, especially when it is done well!!!
What does being exposed mean to you and do you agree or disagree with the fact that travelling is directly related to exposure? Please share your thoughts
Edited by Titilayo Abikoye and Womiye Ojo