'The World Is Too Interesting To Ignore': Why We Need To Open Up To International Cultures

In 2014, if there is one underlying message that the world should share, it's that we are a changing society filled with international ideas that force us to rethink the way we look at the world.

Today, it’s no surprise that the US no longer reigns as the leading superpower it once was. New York City may still be one of the greatest cities around, but more and more places internationally have entered the arena, ready to compete and showcase what their nations have to offer.

The fact of the matter is if you are not competitive in today’s global marketplace, you simply will get left behind. A handful of new global elite have emerged as the ruling class, and are continuing to take over cosmopolitan centers like New York, London, Dubai and Shanghai.

For me living in London, it’s no surprise that the Russians and Chinese have been flocking into the city for the past decade, scooping up some of the most lucrative properties money can buy in the world’s most expensive cities -- many of which are only acquired for the sake of diversifying their international portfolios.

Walk into the posh and iconic Harrods department store in London today, and take a look around. Chances are you’ll hear more Arabic, Chinese and Russian being spoken than actual English.

So what does all of this mean for Generation-Y? I would say that you need to learn how to interpret the international affairs around you and draw your own conclusions on them.

Personally, I grew up around a great deal of international exposure. Ever since I can remember, I have had an immense fascination with the world around me. My parents lived as expats in numerous countries abroad, and being able to travel around the globe truly planted a seed for me to have deep curiosities about the cities and cultures that populate this planet.

I distinctly remember being the only 8-year-old in my elementary school library checking out books on places like Thailand, Brazil or Morocco, or renting "Lonely Planet" documentaries to watch on Friday nights.

I’ve always had an assortment of friends from early on coming from different parts of the world, bringing different cultures and customs into my life. Not surprisingly enough, I went on and got my graduate degree in international relations and global development last summer in Boston and moved back to London where I was born.

My life so far has been filled with unique and enriching experiences which have molded how I interpret and live my life today.

Generation-Y is going to be experiencing a massive shift in how we act and go about our lives to come. Wherever you’re reading this article from, and whatever your goals are for the future, we are living in times of great global connectedness, which causes us to become more competitive with our foreign counterparts.

Recently I was flying back to Boston for my little brother’s undergraduate graduation, something I had been planning on doing for several months. After hailing a taxi on my street on a beautiful London evening, we started our route to Heathrow Airport.

Even though I travel a lot for work and pleasure, my flights out of the city are typically early morning departures, so it was nice to be able to soak in a different vantage point of London and its often horrible rush hour traffic.

As I sat in the back seat of the taxi, my driver and I exchanged some interesting jokes, stories and current affairs going on in the world. He was from Somalia, a war-torn nation in East Africa.

When I got to the ticket agent at the British Airways terminal, I was assisted by a ticket agent originally from India. After going through security and having some loose change trigger the alarm, I was searched by a security officer from Poland. I then got a drink at the lounge where the bartender was Brazilian, and the cocktail waitress was from Thailand.

When I boarded my flight to New York JFK, I met the pilot of 747 who was from Australia, and interestingly enough, my flight attendant was one of the very few British individuals I met on this journey.

One chicken tikka masala and three Jack and Cokes later, I arrived in NYC. I couldn’t help but think that in the past 12 hours, I had met so many interesting people along the way, all of whom came from foreign backgrounds.

It is fundamentally crucial that our generation take on greater efforts to understand the shifts currently taking part in society as more are on the way. We must act more aware, think more internationally and be more globally competitive if we are to capitalize on where the future of the world is going.

It’s important that we know what goes on in world affairs and feel comfortable interacting with more multilingual and multinational perspectives. We must challenge ourselves daily by putting ourselves in diverse situations that force us to think and grow. We should travel as much as possible and engage with various cultures outside of our own.

Learn a new language, dine out at a unique restaurant offering an exotic cuisine, make friends from different backgrounds, pick up a copy of the Financial Times and educate yourself on changing trends in world and business affairs.

Overall, I leave you with a quote which has become my go to mantra ever since I graduated from my undergraduate degree in 2011: "The world is too interesting to ignore."

I feel a necessary and compulsory duty to engage with and understand what the world means to me.

If there is anything Generation-Y should pay attention to, it's how we look at leaving a legacy not only for ourselves, but for people all over the world.

Photo via Fun for Louis tumblr