When I started learning foreign languages I knew only one thing about myself: I love reading. Knowledge of languages helps us understand ourselves and other people. Obviously, reading books in their original languages affected my perceptions of the world, especially during the Cold War.
It all started with books in English and Italian (communication with foreigners was frowned upon, but people used to read a lot), then there was communication with tourists who were perceived as aliens from another planet and then the borders were suddenly open and it was hard to believe that even children and taxi drivers could express themselves freely in a foreign language that seemed dead and not real before, kind of like Esperanto.
I didn't even notice the exact 'I was blind but now I see' moment: I could suddenly see myself and my country from the outside, and the farther away I was from my homeland, the more pronounced its main features appeared to be. It became a rule: from time to time it’s important not only to move the furniture around the house, but also to change your own coordinates in space: nothing makes you as homesick as a long road. Since then I have travelled to several dozens of countries in several roles, and my only wish is that within our lifetime the world would transform from a geographical map into a familiar village populated by a variety of good people related to each other one way or another. Travelling is a way of life and of discovering the world together.