Alex Schnee

When you are living  or teaching abroad, one of the first thing you might want to do is pull out your cellphone/camera at every opportunity and take pictures to share with your friends at home. Sites like Instagram and Flicker have made sharing pictures on a daily basis a part of our culture—I mean, we want to make our friends back home realize how much fun we are having, right?

However, there are also some great benefits to putting that camera away and leaving it behind when you go out for the day. You start to notice things differently when you aren’t out to get the perfect shot to send to your friends, like how good a slice of pizza actually tastes instead of how it looks in Italy, how bright Gaudi’s colors are in Barcelona without a brightness setting, and how busy the streets of Tokyo are when you aren’t glued to your camera phone’s screen. There are some major benefits to really appreciating the moment and enjoying wherever you are in the world.

1. You Appreciate Art More 

When you are in a location that has some amazing works of art, you might want to find yourself wanting to snap that picture behind the security guard’s back. Before you decide to take that photo, however, remember that this work of art has probably already been snapped…usually again and again and again. Think about actually enjoying the work of art as it was intended. Who knows? You might see something new.

2. You appreciate food more.

Taking the time to snap a photo before you dive into a plate of sushi in Japan or pouring yourself some sangria in Spain has kind of become an obligatory action. While it’s understandable that you want your friends to know what’s been on the menu recently, part of the experience of eating food is to enjoy the whole enchilada (so to speak). Before you decide to take a photo, think about whether or not it would ruin the meal to stop and take a picture. Either way, enjoying your food is an important part of learning about a new culture.

3. You appreciate your surroundings more.

Part of going to a new place is enjoying being somewhere else and seeing some new things that you wouldn’t if you were at home. When you are constantly snapping pictures, you can actually end up missing a lot because you are so focused on finding that perfect angle. Think about taking a long walk without your camera in hand and see whether or not you notice anything different about your neighborhood or the people you pass on the street on a daily basis. With so many beautiful things to see while being abroad, it would be a shame to miss them.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t document your experiences and that you shouldn’t take some pictures! But if you find yourself looking through the lens more than you think you should, you might want to consider putting the camera down and taking a long walk with no options of filters.

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