“Go see the world!” I told my kids, knowing it is the best investment a person can make in themselves. To see the world as a whole, not just from the little window you judge it from….that’s a mind opener. But having to adjust your thinking to mankind’s diverse habits and living conditions is also what makes visiting new places so uncomfortable.
And honestly, for me, it’s been the little things: Cars shoved in every available space so that sidewalks are no longer accessable; a mutual understanding of what a comfortable room should feel like; the graffiti on everything…walls, historical monuments, even plants!
Fun fact: Did you know the spectators in the Roman colosseum left graffiti on their stadium benches?! Clearly the practice is as natural as breathing… I guess I’ve been holding my breath all my life…except that one time when I was sixteen. I almost forgot about leaving my mark on that bathroom stall.
It’s worth the pain of personal growth – 100 percent – but the whiney diva in me still wants to complain. But hold on – what if my warnings were actually helpful preparations only disguised as complaints?
My son just came out of the bathroom of our Airbnb in Greece. I swear, as I’m writing this, guess what he said!? And I quote: “you see that picture on the wall?” He points to a commercial ‘home is…’ addage hung on the wall. “Well to me, home is where you know how the shower works.”
He’s not wrong. The hardest part of adjusting is not having information. Being blindsided. I came into Italy already forewarned that the driving was hyper-agressive and if I had a weak stomach I should avoid looking out of windows. So, oddly enough, that’s the one part of Italy I feel absolutely comfortable with. Is it because I was an Italian driver in a past life, 🙂 or that I had already mentally prepared myself?
The video above might not want to behave. Here’s an image pulled from it. Although it looks like the blue van is parked, both these vehicles are driving.
With that idea in mind, I am tempted to write a grumpy traveler blog. A blog filled with things I wasn’t prepared for, things I was too ignorant of to be able to appreciate. I’d mention these things for the sake of helping others, of course, and not, as it would seem, for the sheer joy of bellyaching over my culture shock.
Be prepared, my hopeful traveler! Be forewarned, not with the intention of avoiding cultural differences, but to feel familiar enough that you joyfully dip your toes in, immersing yourself into the possibilities of our amazingly diverse lives.