Few months ago I started a blog series about living abroad. Those of you who've tried it already know how great it can be, traveling to new places, getting to know new culture, languages, and people. In the first part I've shared how it all began for me. Today in the second part I will write more about the things and moments I enjoy most about traveling and living abroad.
1. discovering new places
Discovering new places? Don't I have anything new to say? This one is so obvious! Once you start traveling, you're going to places you've never been to. And those places are gorgeous. Some of them are picturesque like Grand Canyon, some are crazy and vibrant like NYC, and some are just sooo peaceful, like a quite beach on Key West. Every travel destination is different than the ones you visited before but they are all incredibly gorgeous.
2. learning foreign languages
I absolutely love this one - there's no better and faster way to learn foreign language than traveling to a country where they speak that language. When traveling you actually not only learn new languages (you can do that at school in your home country as well), but you're using the language when talking to people who are native speakers. That way your language proficiency is getting better and better by rocket speed.
For example I studied German at school - from elementary school all the way through college, but all I needed was spending 4 weeks in Germany and my German got better than ever. Same thing with English - I started with it in middle school but my English really improved when I first came to Boston and now I'm fluent. Most importantly I speak the English my neighbors in Boston speak. My vocabulary and pronunciation improved dramatically. I don't speak some funny book-learned-and-never-practiced English. I'm still impressed when I realize I just started using an expression I didn't use a month ago, only because it's common where I live and somehow it became natural to me. It feels so good to be able to speak the same language as all other people on the street.
3. meeting new people
Traveling is a perfect way for meeting new people AND it's also the best way to meet all kinds of people from different cultures, with totally different life experiences than yours. Every new person you meet on your adventures can teach you so much. Then you as well can be a great gift to someone who never left home and couldn't enjoy traveling the world. Has anyone of you ever experienced that once completely strange people find out you're a traveler they suddenly want to know everything about your journey, they're eager to hear you stories and wish they could do the same.
Now, if you're an introvert this might seem very unpleasant - strange people wanting to talk to you all the time. Meeting new people for me is hard as well. I'm a weird combination of an extroverted introvert who likes to be seen (no problem singing, dancing, or acting in front of the audience) but only if it's 100% prepared and you were persuading me to do it for at least half an hour. I'm having a hard time though starting talking to strangers. To talk to someone, I must have a reason to - e.g. ask for directions, help, whatever. But to start talking to someone I don't know, only because I'm curious what they've been doing on their travels today? I don't think so. If you start, I'll be really friendly and wouldn't mind talking to you at all but don't expect me to start.
The hard part though, at least for me, is not having a topic to talk about with strangers. But once you travel, you always have something to talk about. And people want to listen to your stories! Even if you don't initiate the conversation, at least there will be something to talk about when you start. So traveling actually helps me to be little better about this introverted part of myself. Traveling gives me conversation topics that are so interesting!
4. getting to know yourself
I would never guess how much I like my home country until I started leaving it for longer periods of time. I didn't realize how much traditions mean to me, or good coffee :) Traveling pushes your limits and you often find yourself in situations you wouldn't expect. It also helps you to get to know yourself better, exactly because of those unpredictable situations. On one hand, you'll find out that there are things you don't need in your life, but you'll also realize what are those important things you can't live without. You learn a lot on your travels and you are given a chance to teach others as well.
5. taking photographs
There's nothing better than having a wonderful framed picture on the wall and when somebody asks about it, you can say it's yours. You've taken it.
I love taking photos, crazy and funny looking moments of my adventures, as well as organized group shots, or those must-take photos everyone takes. Like the view from the top of Empire State Building, or you standing in front of the Southernmost Point of the Continental US on Key West. When you're looking at those photos, you feel like you're there again. At least I do. I'll open iPhoto on my computer and go through those beautiful memories over and over again.
Traveling really is wonderful and there are so many things to like about it! These are the 5 top ones for me, it could be something else for you. But I'm pretty sure it's wonderful for everybody.