Derek Sivers

What you learn by travelling


I wanted to learn about the world, so I went travelling.

People in the east are so graceful, I felt like an inconsiderate pig.

People up north are so serious, I felt like a lightweight clown.

People down south are so laid-back, I had to escape north again.

The way we define ourself is all relative to our surroundings, right? However we differ from the people in our home town is how we define ourself. That’s where we shape our self-identity, growing up. Those are our defining traits.

But when we go to a different place, the relative comparisons collapse. Traits like speed, ambition, independence, bravery, and humor — they’re all relative.

Back home I’m considered quiet. Here I’m considered loud.

Back home I’m a slacker. Here I’m a workaholic.

Back home I’m normal. Here I’m strange. Or vice-versa. So how do I define myself now?

I always want to know why a culture is this way. What’s the difference? What are the core beliefs? So I ask questions and observe.

On the surface and from a distance, I see their actions. But deeply and closely, I see my reactions.

I want to learn about the world, so I keep travelling.

About the world, I learn a bit. About myself, I learn a lot.