Learning foreign languages has allowed me to do the same. However, my shuttle is not made of the newest space age materials, but simple words. My space shuttles are foreign languages. Nothing else has ever told me more about where I come from and who I am than a new language. To me, this is the greatest benefit language learning can offer.
Languages represent the shuttles we use to motivate ourselves to dive into foreign cultures, and in return, gain perspective on our own. Perhaps it starts with a simple feeling of, “wouldn’t it be cool to speak (fill in the blank)!” For the people that follow through on this proclamation, they will lift off and launch themselves into a life long journey that will hopefully allow them to orbit their own homeland and have a taste of what Neil Armstrong experienced, taking a look back at your environment and marveling at it.
Speaking from personal experience, the facilitating factor that lead me to leave my country was my newly acquired love for the Spanish language. My main goal was to conquer this language by any means possible. Therefore, I decided to head to Europe with a limited amount of fuel (my vocabulary).
After arriving, I started to mingle with not only the locals, but also people from other parts of the continent. I heard their opinions about their own countries, and mine as well. As a result, I began to look into the credibility of their views. These types of encounters along with general experience in the country are what lead to the big changes in my life.
These changes include:
A renewed love for my country and culture
A new love for history
A desire to learn even more languages
These changes would have never occurred if it had not been for language learning and its side effects.
I hope that everyone who desires this type of awakening jumps in their space shuttle and not only enjoys the destination, but also the ride.