I don't know if travel for more than a vacation period is supposed to make you a better person or teach you anything. Regardless, here are some things I'm more aware of now that I've been living out of a backpack for a month:
1. It takes me about 7 days to be able to navigate around without a map in a city like Rome.
2. To interact with people, you really really should learn Their Language. Here I spoke to more French and Latin American people than any Italians (or Chinese, for that matter).
3. You have to be flexible about money. As Lemmy said, "You win some, you lose some, it's all the same to me." I could list so many examples of how this applied to me on the trip but before this trip, I didn't have this attitude towards money.
4. You have to be flexible with plans if you want to go anywhere - literally.
5. If you travel without interacting with anybody who lives there, you can get an essence of the place from books and film, but it will be the same as having Margaret Atwood or David Cronenberg or Mordecai Richler represent Canadians.
6. Materials are just that: materials. They create weight and take up space. At home I have a collection of books, music and CDs and every once in a while I will trim the collection to get more space. It's great that I have my favorite films and books at my fingertips, but I've learned to leave materialistic things behind, to let them go more easily because it's not the material that has sentimental value but the contents. And since that is mass-produced and nowadays there is the Internet, you can get them anywhere.