Contributed by Victoria James
Have you ever fallen in love abroad?
Oh yes, you know exactly who you are. Maybe it was those narrow, winding Parisian streets, the sweaty passion of the salsa or all that sunshine and surf.
Or maybe it was you?
Why does it seem so easy to fall for someone when you’re in an exotic locale, arguably in your most vulnerable state? You don’t speak the language. You don’t know where you’re going. You aren’t familiar with the local customs or culture, yet you feel these pangs of intrigue and desire in your gut that definitely weren’t caused by the street meat you just scarfed down on the corner.
Many seasoned travelers will tell you that your spidey senses typically heighten the minute you disembark. The usual questions you constantly ask yourself are set on repeat, such as: where is my wallet? What is the actual cost of this taxi ride? Should I eat that? And what are my chances of surviving this bus ride?
However, over time, deeper, more fundamental queries begin to surface. For instance, you begin to ask yourself, “what is it about my life here that I find so invigorating and exciting? Why am I more outgoing, flirtatious and/or spontaneous here than back home?” My personal favorite comes from a close friend, who shall remain nameless: “should I marry him (or her) so that I can stay here forever?”
While the latter may be a bit extreme, we all wonder whether the grass is greener from time to time- it’s human nature. But it’s curious to note that in addition to raving (and ranting) about the architecture, the gelato and the funny toilettes, the majority of travelers wax poetic about the kindness of the people, the generosity of the locals and all the smiles that greeted them along the way. While there will always be a few bad apples, the majority of people around the world are excited to share their culture, food and language with you. Are you ready to learn, taste and listen? If you are, then you likely answered yes to the first question. Being open to new experiences, having a positive outlook and the ability to, “go with the flow” are some of the most valuable traits a lifelong traveler can cultivate. They are also the easiest avenues through which to better know yourself and the interesting people around you, whether at home or abroad.
While marrying the Petrobras exec’s son just so you can stay in the country might not be the best course of action, recognizing that the curiosity, resilience and enthusiasm you employ while traveling can just as easily be carried home. They don’t even take up any extra space in your suitcase!
Photo by Favim.com