This past year and three months abroad have been a very satisfying and fulfilling time for me. Leaving Europe is very difficult, especially when you have to leave friends behind who ask, ‘When will you come back?’
I don’t have an answer right now, but I know for a fact that I will come to Europe often. Europe has always been home to me. In the last 10-15 years, I have been in and out of Europe, traveling often in this wonderful continent. It was only a matter of time before I moved and lived here. The biggest takeaway from this experience is feeling very lucky to be able to do this. I used to wonder why a lot of people don’t travel often when it’s an experience that shapes you as a whole. Now I understand that, aside from money, it’s a personal decision and some people just don’t have the motivation.
For me, travel is ingrained in my nature. I’m a curious-minded, adventurous fiend, and I absolutely love it. I am well aware of how lucky I am to be able to live and travel in Europe. I understand that not a lot of people can do this, and I don’t take it for granted by any means.
Looking back, there are a few lessons that I learned and will never forget.
- Traveling alone
Traveling alone is still a work in progress for me. However, if I can move to another country without knowing the language, I can definitely travel alone.
Listening was difficult since I didn’t know the language. However, I learned to listen very well; it’s a powerful skill to have when trying to understand someone who’s communicating their thoughts, or when you need critical documents processed.
- Speak Up
Speaking up is important. There have been many times when I was the only person who didn’t speak another language, making me feel uncomfortable. I learned to defend myself and stand up for what I felt was right, even if I had to repeat myself over and over again.
Diversity was an eye-opener for me. Coming from L.A., I thought I was living in a multi-cultural city and living a diverse lifestyle. However, sitting in a room full of people who spoke 3-6 different languages made me realize that what I knew may not always be right, and someone else may do things better.
Communication is a powerful skill, and learning a new language can help you defend your thoughts and ideas to someone who doesn’t speak your language. I wish I had learned Italian before I came, but my Spanish skills helped me a ton.
- Customer Service
Customer service in the USA is one of the best in the world. Americans in a service-oriented environment are able to explain things better than anyone from the beginning of a process to the very end.
Quality food and drinks in Europe, especially in Italy, take it home, even though Americans are great in customer service.
I never realized how competitive I was until I came to Europe. However, I learned to pick my battles and let things go when necessary.
- Roll with the punches
Rolling with the punches is something I learned to do. I’m an impatient person, but when things don’t go as planned, I definitely learned to roll with it. Some things are out of your control.
My taste buds have completely changed, and I’ve discovered new and delicious dishes that I never would have tried before. From the fragrant herbs and spices in Italy to the rich cheeses in France, every meal has been a new adventure for me. It’s incredible how much my palate has expanded, and I know what I like and don’t like now more than ever.
Until next time….ASA