I have grown up in the UK and seen how society has changed drastically over the last 20 or so years. It used to be common for people to hold doors open for those walking behind them, to say please and thank you and to let others off public transport before getting on. It was also rare for people to have their music so loud it can be heard down the street and prevent neighbours from getting sleep. Unfortunately now this seems to be how a lot of people act, showing no respect for other people or even their belongings.
Travel has opened my eyes to how different cultures can be. Of course not everyone in the UK acts like the above but it is becoming more common place and my experiences around the world reflect my experiences and as in people and as in everything there are good and bad.
When I visited the US, I was amazed at the level of service in New York. Every member of staff whether it was on the subway, in a restaurant or in a shop, they all had impeccable customer service skills. I guess a lot can be said for commission but even so, this makes your day that little bit brighter and makes society that little bit nicer.
In Central America, some parts of the countries I have visited have been reasonably wealthy and reflect a lifestyle similar to that of the UK (but with more sunshine). However, other parts of the countries I visited have few belongings, no internet, no hot water and live three or four children to a room. This made them value everything they have and even the smallest gift seemed like you were giving them the world. In the mountains of Boquete in Panama, I saw a building of breeze blocks and holes for windows with a teddy bear and a small toy car out on the makeshift porch.
This was in contrast to the skyscrapers and Hard Rock Cafe of Panama City but it made me wonder, who is happier? I like to believe that it is the child with very few belongings but a close knit community working in the coffee plantations of Boquete who cherish everything they have and live so remotely that they are unaware of how the other half live.
In Spain, family is cherished more so than in the UK and maybe other parts of the world. Life revolves around family and the closest of friends are considered family. This is a nice way of living and appreciating those closest to you who have probably given you the most in life and provided you with the best start in life that they could.
Travel really does broaden the mind and although, like many, I am guilty of being too materialistic, I have learnt to appreciate those things and my family and friends more than I did before. I appreciate that I can turn on the shower and warm water comes out. Independent travel especially makes you realise the things that matter to you. When you leave your family and/or friends to travel for any period of time, you look forward to that moment at home or at the airport when you will see them there waiting for you. Certain countries have stolen little pieces of my heart and I am sure that some of the new countries I visit in the future will also steal my heart but home really is where the heart is and the majority of my heart lies where my family are.