I am finally home in the United States to reflect on my ten-day adventure in Spain. Throughout my amazing and enlightening experience abroad, I learned more about the world than I ever could in a classroom. Here are some of those things:
- Try everything- If it isn’t harmful or dangerous, say yes. When in a foreign country, being open-minded to new things is essential to understanding the culture.
- Be aware- Know important phrases in the language, know how the currency system works, always know where you are going next. Having your wits about you is of the utmost importance in a strange place.
- Appreciate beauty- Although you may be jet lagged, exhausted, hot, hungry, or uncomfortable, do your best to enjoy your experience abroad. I had a lot of long days in Spain when I wished I was relaxing but now that I am home I already miss the chaos!
- Be polite- Always ask nicely if you need something, make conversation, and know the social customs of the country you are in. If something that is normal at home is perceived as rude in another country, you shouldn’t be doing that while abroad.
- Take pictures, but be in the moment- If you’ve always got your face buried in your camera, you won’t be aware of what is going on around you. Take fewer nice pictures, and less multiples of everything you see. Be present and observe where you are.
- Learn- When you are in a new place, there is so much history and culture to learn and soak up. The knowledge you gain from travel is the most valuable in life, so hold on to it.
- Hydrate- I know this goes without saying, but traveling dehydrates your body and you’re in for a world of hurt if you don’t replenish your fluids. Not only can dehydration put a damper on your plans, but for frequent travelers, dehydration can cause long-term health issues. Drink up!
- Save your money for special souvenirs- Nothing is worse than an I Heart _____ t-shirt. Save for something more authentic and special. For example, I refrained from buying souvenirs in Madrid and instead chose to spend my Euros in the cities of Toledo and Granada, where I purchased earrings created by craftsmen and a hamsa bracelet from a Moroccan neighborhood. And, of course, money can’t buy your happiness, so souvenirs don’t replace memories.
- Sleep is for the weak- Try to enjoy as much of your adventure as possible. While it is tempting to sleep in, you’ll miss out on valuable time you could be spending exploring. Now, it is important to get a decent amount of rest each night to be able to enjoy your trip- I recommend 6-8 hours a night, and maybe a short nap in the afternoon.
- Take time to reflect- Finally, when your journey comes to a close, remember to gather your thoughts on everything you experienced and learned. Memories are one of the best parts of travel.
Let your wanderlust sweep you away!