I do believe that in any life experience there is a POSITIVE learning opportunity (even if the positive side is not quite obvious from time to time).
As I started to explore the world, I had “key learnings” I thought I would share with you.
Some of them are a tiny bit exaggerated, but you may well identify yourself in others… 🙂
1.Travel light. Take the bare minimum. Aim to have a list of “must have” for travels
Ask my boyfriend – when I travel I used to take “my home” with me.
YES – “I may need that self-tanning lotion over that 3 days stay. (Even if I never put some the rest of the year)”
YES – “In case the weather changes over the week end – it is a safe option to plan on having 3 different outfits per day… Just in case… You know…. ”
YES – “I need that pair of red flat, the high heels boots and my shiny pointy black shoes….Just in case”
NO – “A black hand bag does not fit with every outfit: if I wear a brown scarf : it would be a FASHION FAUX PAS to accessorize with a black bag” 🙂
Though – as I am growing older – I tend to be more pragmatic and realistic. It was about time ! 🙂
All of the above were a bit of exaggerated, but some of you may see what I am talking about.
2. If you are European : forget about the passport filling contest with non European friends
My boyfriend is American : While he gets a stamp almost everywhere he crosses a border, I have been multiple times across Europe since I got my passport : it is even not half full.
3. US customs agent tend not to be the funniest (but some are still super cool – though)
The good news is that if you have a French accent – they suddenly seem to be a bit more welcoming. I guess it brings them a bit of an exotic touch in their day.
4. Some people can tell where you are from – even if you do not mention your nationality
Even if I am not a big fan of saying there are standard behaviors/ways of looking that makes a nationality more or less easy to recognize, It tends to prove right for me.
Example : when arriving at the customs border check in Dublin – I had not say a word or given my passport yet – I was welcomed with a warm “BONJOUR MADEMOISELLE”.
More recently, I was on the phone with the hotel concierge in Romania. I was speaking English – with the less French accent possible… at least I thought… The guy stopped me after the 2 words – saying : “ we can speak French if you want”.
Alright… I was maybe betrayed by ZEE FRRRENCH ACCENT for that one.
For those who wonders :
NO – I do not wear a Beret, or a French baguette every where I go 🙂
NO – I do not have a braid of garlic around my neck.
NO – It is not written on my forehead ” I AM FRENCH”
Last but not least – YES – I do take a shower on a daily basis ( just precising, as several American people came to me asking seriously if “is it true French people do not shower daily but instead use perfume ? “)
So , I guess there is something about my “Frenchness” that may be noticeable!
5. Communicating with people is possible even if you are not familiar with local language. It is a matter of willingness to make it happen
I still remember when I lived in Prague. I could not say a word of Czech.
Even after the 6 months I spent there, I could only stick to the basics “ Hello”, “Thank you”, “Please”.
Though one day as I was doing groceries, a lady started talking to me. When she saw my look – “OMG I could not undestand a word of what you just said” – she understood I was clueless. After a signs discussion, it came out that she just wanted to tell me I had very nice hair. It was a very funny situation, heart-warming and also a confirmation that when putting a bit of effort – it is possible to make connections.
Smile and laugh are international ways of communicating a state of mind, to make others feeling comfortable and welcome. Never be afraid of using it, as it is very communicative!
Credit for the picture is MINE ! 🙂