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What you can learn during a trip through Southeast Asia

Basking in the sun on a boat gracefully sailing through Halong Bay can be a hugely tranquil experience. Savoring the delicious Thai cuisine can be a remarkable treat for your palate. However, there's much more value you can get out of traveling abroad. While you're out seeing the towering historic structures, roaming through the sloping hillsides and interacting with the locals, you're also broadening your learning experience. A trip through Southeast Asia can be tremendously educational. More than that, it can be life changing.

Endless learning opportunities
In an entirely different region with new customs, wildlife, natural surroundings and history, the learning opportunities are truly boundless. Students studying abroad aren't the only people who can learn from an international travel experience. You too can learn an incredible amount by visiting regions abroad. According to the NAFSA: Association of International Educators, study abroad programs can benefit students by enhancing their global experience, developing their leadership skills and spurring personal growth - all things international travelers on an extended vacation can gain from as well.

The common thread is that both groups experience a piece of the world first hand and come in contact with a wholly different learning opportunity. You can read the news, open a textbook or watch a documentary, but ultimately nothing compares to seeing the surroundings with your own eyes, feeling the walls of a centuries-old piece of architecture or having a conversation face to face with a local from a completely different culture.

What can you learn in Southeast Asia?
So what exactly can you learn on a trip through Southeast Asia? The answers to that question are numerous and diverse, but here are a few that may spark your interest: 

See the graceful elephants
You may know that elephants are the largest land mammal on Earth. If you're particularly knowledgeable about animals you may even know that the Asian elephant is endangered, according to National Geographic, but do you know what one feels like? Do you know how to care for an elephant? Do you know how to ride one of these massive forest creatures? Those are the types of experiences you could have at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center, where visitors are taught what goes into feeding and protecting these gentle giants. If you're truly lucky, you can even trek through the forest atop one of the elephants. Perhaps one of the most interactive learning experiences you'll have with an elephant, you'll likely get more out of seeing these creatures up close and personal than reading about them in a book.

The Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh
Perhaps you have learned a thing or two about the larger-than-life man behind the Ho Chi Minh trails. Perhaps you learned about his victories against the French colonials or his leadership position fighting against the South Vietnamese, but you can take a deep look into the life of a Vietnamese legend during a trip to Hanoi. On your tour, you can see his old residence and the towering Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. According to the Management Committee of the mausoleum, the structure was built to preserve the memory and honor the remains of this national figure. While Ho Chi Minh may be just a name in a textbook to some travelers, his legacy is a point of national pride and extreme importance in Vietnam. Then again, you may only realize the extent of this by visiting the country.

Experience Halong Bay
Maybe you have seen this stunning and picturesque location in photos or in paintings, but nothing compares to the awesome sight you'll gaze over from the side of a boat. A part of the United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural Organization World Heritage List, this natural formation consists of hundreds of lush limestone islands protruding from the peaceful water. A painting truly doesn't do this location justice, but that's a matter only visitors may discover.

There are hundreds of lessons to be learned in Southeast Asia, and hundreds more to be learned elsewhere. If you're particularly interested in animals, you may want to educate yourself with an exciting Serengeti tour. This is one of the greatest locations for big game animal viewing during periods of migration, and you're bound to learn something about the zebras, wildebeest, elephants, giraffes and big cats as they roam in their natural environment.

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