Life Lessons Learned From Abroad

Well I think anyone who has lived abroad for an extended amount of time can attest to this article about living and thriving abroad and the things you learn to live with as well as lessons you learn from. I’m sure I will once again go through all of these things have several stories about living in France, the Republic of Georgia, and Italy. Here is a rapid fire list of my ten things. What are y’alls?

1) A woman’s dog roaming around a restaurant an ex and I were eating at while in Siena. My ex is Italian so he didn’t even notice

2) I actually cook now whereas I was reluctant to do so just three years ago. I craved PB&J in France. It sucked because the PB was expensive and I saw NO, I repeat NO grape jelly. I was toooo sad by that. But a girl who studied abroad with me went home to NYC and brought me some back…I killed the SHIT out of it! Luckily, though, I learned my lesson from this and brought both with me to Georgia. Interesting story about it and my host family; that’s for another day though. I also missed, missed, missed maple syrup! I was more than pissed that France had none, but Germany had TONS! That blew my mind. I just could NOT understand. Hopefully I can bring all three of these things with me to Turkey. 😉

3) I realized while living in Italy that my family and I never once sat down and enjoyed a meal together. Like, ever. That saddened me a bit and I really cherished, well still do, that experience.

4) Let me just tell you that I am the QUEEN of asking for directions. When I studied abroad two years ago, my travel buddy and I became experts at it quite quickly. We had enough sense, as we didn’t speak French that well yet, to ask a person how to get somewhere, go as far as we could remember, and then ask another person. Georgians were even more helpful in the sense that they would physically move your body over to wherever it is that you needed to go; as I surely spoke not more than four words of their language.

5) In Georgia, “cutting in line” is not seen as such. If you do not, you will not get to the front. Period pointe blank; this along with standing nearly on top of the person in front of you is necessary. Also, staring is a cultural norm that I never got used to. I’m hoping Turkey will not be as bad; though I’m not that optimistic.

6) I feel like I have so many stories for this one that I can’t even think of just one. The first that popped up was a party that I waited in line (the French also cut in line), alone, for two hours for and it was some huge annual event that I had seen posters for around town. They have really nice advertisements each year. I forget the theme for that year. Something robotics I think. I believe the place was called electric palace too. I met a, ugh, nice French guy that night. ;)….

7) I throw shit out but I’m not always happy about it. I was sad to toss so much out when I left France. ‘Twas a damn shame for real. That’s all I’ve got to say ’bout that.

8) It is often the case that I’m abroad and don’t speak the local language; but I still talk to everyone. Even if they’re not as receptive to speaking to strangers (ahem..France), I still talk. They can either respond or not. I don’t care that much. I’m from the south and we talk to everyone. We look you in the face, smile, and say hello. It doesn’t mean we’re interested, it’s friendliness that perhaps the world is losing; which is also a damn shame.

9) “Who are you trying to impress?” This question still resinates with me a year later after a friend of mine from teaching in Georgia said it to me. After leaving France I adopted a more “chic” approach to fashion and style. I, for some reason, held on to them for two years and carried them with me to Georgia (a developing country). My friend was wondering why I was taking forever to get ready and trying to decide on an outfit. I still find myself doing this (even going to Turkey). I still have no answer as I keep doing this. I feel the need to always look decent; you never know who you’ll meet, right?

10) Empathy was something I was born with; it is even stronger now that I have been through some things many have never been trough; seen things most will probably never get to. The difference is that I can relate to their trials and tribulations now where I maybe couldn’t before. I always make a point to help new exchange students at my old university because I know it’s hard to make American friends for them.


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