Before I went abroad last summer, I had grand visions of what traveling would be like. I thought that I could live similarly to how I lived in the US, I would just be in a different country. Besides, Europe isn’t that different from the Americas, right? Well, kind of, in comparison with Asian and African countries perhaps, but the differences that do exist are large. Below are some aspects of my life that have never really been the same when I’m abroad.
- Food: I’m vegetarian, so there isn’t as much variety in the food as what a meat-eater would find, maybe, but the differences I’ve experienced are quite big! I try to eat healthfully, with a lot of fresh fruits and mostly whole grains, but while some aspects of American cuisine have found global popularity, such as french fries, others really have not. What I eat largely depends on where I am, but I’ve found that I really don’t have a problem with that.
- Exercise: I make a very sincere effort to go to the gym at least 3 times a week, but never when I’ve lived abroad have I been able to replicate this. There simply have not been gyms nearby, and sometimes I choose instead to go on runs outside, but even this is so variable based on the weather (running out in the heat is no fun and I will not do it no matter how good it is for me).
- How often I talk to non-local friends and family: Let’s face it, when we go abroad, basically everyone that is not there with us is non-local, and it takes extra effort to communicate with them. I usually talk to my parents on the phone every other day, or every three days, but when I’m abroad, I’ll often go two weeks without talking to them at all, save text messages assuring them I’m alive. Friends are even worse. I won’t talk to anyone on the phone, preferring instead loooooong emails that serve kind of as diary entries that I recount the events of the day in. I don’t text my friends at all when I’m not in the US! I send fewer snapchats and respond to fewer GroupMe-s. You’d think that it would be the opposite, and that I would want to share more with them about my adventures, but the truth is, I’m so preoccupied with absorbing it myself that I don’t think to share.
I don’t think that it’s a bad thing that my life isn’t the same abroad as when I’m in the United States, quite the opposite in fact. Changing my life gives me more insight into who I am as a person, and I love that it gives the opportunity for growth.