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9 Things I Learned from Leaving the Country for the First Time

A few weeks ago, I was given the amazing opportunity to go on a Caribbean cruise, which made stops in Haiti and Jamaica, with my family of seventeen people. This was also my first time out of the country, and here’s what I learned:


1. The US lifestyle is not typical around the world.

I seem to get so trapped in my day-to-day MN lifestyle that I forget how different the world is in different countries. Dynamics, work life, opportunities, marketplaces, schooling; it’s all so different and eye-opening to recognize.


2. Just because someone lives a simple life does not mean it’s an unhappy one.

Some areas had less money than others, and some areas were more lively than others, but people in all the areas were happy. It made me recognize the joy in simplicity.


3. You will be pushed out of your comfort zone, but it’s good for you. That’s how you grow.


4. Why, why, why am I still living in MN when I could be selling art on a Caribbean island?

Spending my days sipping fruity drinks and working on the beach sounds more enticing than scraping ice off my windshield on a blustery winter morning.


5. It’s not where you are; it’s who you’re with.

While I didn’t have any problem with hopping from one Caribbean island to the next, I don’t think it would have been nearly as enjoyable if I wasn’t surrounded by people I love. We could have had just as much fun somewhere else.



6. I’d rather spend my money seeing the world than on material things back home.

This was just the beginning for me. Now that I have ventured out of the United States, I am determined to work hard enough to bring myself all over the world.


7. Another reason to live.

I found something more to strive for. There’s so much out there I haven’t seen!


8. Sometimes you can trust strangers… sometimes you cannot!

In Jamaica, my family and I chose to go with a tour guide who wasn’t associated with the cruise line. He brought us to friends’ houses and private tour stops. We were hesitant to trust, but I am so glad we did. We got a personal experience we would have never gotten otherwise. In Haiti, my sister was exploring and was gestured into a marketplace we weren’t necessarily supposed to go to. She almost got stuck paying for a lot of things she didn’t want from people she didn’t trust.



9. I survived a week without my phone and it was amazing!

I kind of hate when everyone is together…on their phones. Because we were all out in the middle of the ocean without cell service or WiFi, we spent so much more time focusing on each other and being present. Everyone is addicted to the security of a phone these days, but it’s possible to survive without it – I did!



Alexa Jo is a senior at Winona State studying Psychology and Communication Studies. She enjoys learning new skills, getting outside, upcycling clothes, and hanging out with the people she loves. She likes to write stories that are real, raw, and have just a touch of humor. She writes because she believes she has a lot to say, and wants to talk about the things others are scared to talk about. She uses her writing to share her experiences and uplift others. She hopes to one day work for a non profit in campaigns for social change.
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