Aren’t there times when you don’t feel comfortable by your surroundings, maybe it is the unfamiliar ways of being greeted by acquaintances that involve a lot of should I/ shouldn’t I moments, or maybe it is the conversations that you want to add your input on, but struggle to get involved in due to the foreign tongue being spoken. This article explores the importance of adaptability from personal experiences and why I believe travelling can help you to grow as a person but also to appreciate the best and worst that life has to throw at you.
I feel in a position to write this, though I am not a child who was born in one city and grew up in the next or the son of a diplomat that lives in one place for given number of years but from my personal experiences of traveling to the best and most desired places to visit, and also going to places which may be considered less of a tourist hotspot that some locals see as not worth visiting, as according to one Greek friend describing some previous destinations I have been to, to read like a Lonely Planet’s guide of places to travel before you die.
Experience Number 1:. Greetings.
First impressions - you can never get away from them, and everybody has them. One way of making a good one, is through understanding the local culture of greeting new people, whether they be young, or old or through formal or informal introductions. Through my travels, I have experienced variations of greetings that all have their quirk and charms, is it one kiss or two kisses on the cheek, is it the right or left cheek first, well all that would all depend on where you are in Europe, and yes I have experienced the brushing of lips as I failed to establish which cheek to approach first or is it any kisses at all. In North America, it would not be uncommon to hug a complete stranger upon first meeting, who would think that is normal in Asia where more formal gestures such as Salaaming or not even touching at all at are common are considered to be more respectful. Through these introductory gestures a general sense of the person’s personality is immediately revealed and can immediately give you an idea of the kind of evening you are about to have, where you may have to sit through small talk or enjoy the liveliness of a conversation that can sometimes confuse you that people are arguing. By understanding certain gestures, I believe you can instantly show someone genuine warmth and respect at the same time which can only be a positive.
Experience Number 2: Talking
We all do it, some less than others, some too much and why is that? Personally, I attribute this down to the company you are with and the setting of where you are. Isn’t there always a saying, which you learn when you are abroad that you so wish would be recognized, maybe I should say appreciated, by the people you try explain it to when you return? The richness of certain languages and gestures used daily by their inhabitants such as to wish someone a good continuation, can get lost in direct translation. But maybe it is just down to languages. The feeling of wanting to get involved in a conversation but not knowing how to say it can be very frustrating, it not only makes you wish you spent more attention in French class but maybe that languages can be taught in a way that actually promotes actually utilizing the language when abroad. But when it comes down to good company, it doesn’t matter what language you are both attempting to speak, whether you are eating at Jules Verne located in the Eiffel Tower or in the simplest of cafes, good company/ or friends, they always get the best from you and all you can do is try.
The diverse nature of these trips I believe have helped me to grow in a way that is not unique in this day and age but nonetheless have helped me to understand the world from a cultured point of view and the necessity of being able to adapt to foreign situations. Living in a globalized world, the necessity to be able to adapt to foreign cultures and languages is one that could affect you in a way you may not be ready for.
Written by Atha Mousios!