Category Archives: Relocation

Three Healthcare Tips for Your Big Move

 

The holidays are upon us and Global Perceptions wants to reward you by givingIMG_0592[1] you 12 DAYS OF FREE GIFTS! Here are our relocation tips for DAY 4!

 

Three Healthcare Tips for Your Big Move

By Jennifer Alvarez and Julie Parenteau

 

Remaining healthy during your relocation process, as well as maintaining your health abroad, is vital. To stay healthy, Global Perceptions recommends taking the following precautions.  

  1. Medical Coverage.  If you are relocating due to your job, make sure to clarify
    Learn about healthcare procedures in your host country before leaving.

    Learn about healthcare procedures in your host country before leaving.

    what will be covered in your host country. If you will need to transfer your medical insurance, make sure you complete this transaction immediately after arrival. This will ensure that you and your family will be covered in case of a medical emergency.

 

  1.    Vaccinations. Most countries share the same series of vaccinations.  In some cases, depending on the country you are relocating to, there may be additional mandatory vaccinations that need to be completed before you travel there. Aside from mandatory vaccinations, check to see what vaccinations may be recommended, but not required.  The main point is to protect yourself against various diseases that some countries have that others do not.

 

  1. Medication Supply.  Make sure you receive at least a one month supply of all
    pills

    Get your prescriptions filled prior to departure.

    medications for all family members before you depart.  It may take some time to finalize your medical insurance paperwork and locate a primary health care physician.  You do not want to run out of your much needed medication before you are able to obtain a refill.

Taking these measures will help you and your family stay physically healthy so that you can focus more on staying emotionally healthy during this trying time.

 

For more relocation advice for your move to Puerto Rico or beyond, please contact Global Perceptions. Or visit us on Facebook and Twitter!

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5 Tips for Bringing Fall to Life as an Expat

A healthy fall treat that will leave your house smelling heavenly!

5 Tips for Bringing Fall to Life as an Expat

By: Julie L. Parenteau, Ph.D., Owner/President of Global Perceptions

 

Fall is my favorite time of year. There’s something about the cool, crisp air ushering in the season that makes me feel renewed. Sipping hot chocolate after Friday night high school football games and picking apples from a nearby orchard add to my giddiness. Or at least

A healthy fall treat that will leave your house smelling heavenly!

A healthy fall treat that will leave your house smelling heavenly!

they did! Since moving to Puerto Rico eight years ago, I have seen precious little of the colorful trees shining in the setting sun. In Puerto Rico, there is only a slight difference from one season to another. So slight in fact, that I forget that seasons even change. That’s a pretty big change for a Midwestern girl accustomed to greeting the seasons with gusto.

Despite my change of venue, I have found ways to bring my favorite season to life, even in the Caribbean! Here are my top 5 ways to keep fall alive for expatriates living in Puerto Rico and other tropical locations.

 

1) Watch American Football

I am a HUGE Green Bay Packers fan! It’s hard to grow up in Wisconsin and not be. If American football is one of your passions, carry it to your new home and watch your team with local fans. Win or lose, cheer or jeer, get together as a family over nachos and chili, just like home. Sometimes even just the consistent schedule of games will help you recreate the fall feeling.

 

2) Bake, Bake, Bake

Get our your mixer and have a bake-a-thon! Fall without recipes made of pumpkin, apple and cranberry just wouldn’t be fall. Let the scents of cakes, breads, cookies, pies and muffins waft through your house, creating a sensation that transports you to the coziness of a fireplace-heated living room. Imagine yourself wearing flannel pajamas as you crack

A healthy fall treat that will leave your house smelling heavenly!

A healthy fall treat that will leave your house smelling heavenly!

eggs, even though you are likely in shorts and a tank top. If you think ahead, you can even have pumpkin spice and butterscotch shipped right to your door via online shopping! And you’ll have something delicious to eat afterward!

 

3) Buy a new sweater

The feel of a new sweater is such a fall thing. The softness and warmth that it emits even while on the store rack beckons the aimless shopper. Cashmere, knit, wool….they all call out, promising to comfort in the best and worst of times. And somehow you know that whether it’s a cool gray or warm cranberry color, you will be comforted by its thread.

 

4) Pick up scented candles

When you start dreaming of enjoying Saturday afternoon walks in the park, listening to the crunch of the fallen leaves beneath your hiking boots, you know it’s time to find a

Sometimes giving into  your desires is the best thing you can do!

Sometimes giving into your desires is the best thing you can do!

substitute. Candles work wonders! Pick up something that screams FALL to you. I personally like apple-scented candles, but there are lots to pick from. Find one that works for you and light it!

 

5) Get on the plane

For those times when the nostalgia simply takes over and you have to see, feel, hear, taste and touch the fall, get on the plane and reward yourself with a few days in a place that offers just what you need. Consider a trip mid-October to early November in places like Washington, D.C. or Kansas City. The temperatures still aren’t too cold during the day, but they offer crisp nights perfect for trying out that new sweater.

 

For more ideas on making your transition to Puerto Rico a positive experience, consult with the Relocation Specialists at Global Perceptions! We have the local experience, but the global reach. Visit us TODAY at http://global-perceptions.com/

 

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Making independence possible

disoriented

Written by Dr. Julie L. Parenteau, President of Global Perceptions

 

July 4, 2006 marked a new chapter in my life. It was the first day that I woke up in Puerto Rico. I awoke with incredibly uncertainty. Had I made the right decision in coming? Would I figure out how to get around? How long would it take me to learn enough Spanish to communicate effectively?

 

The next two weeks were filled with challenges and doubts. It was so hot!! The power went out several times, which made me even more miserable. I tried going out once or twice, but got lost so badly and was so nervous about crashing the loaner car in the crazy traffic that Itemperature stayed put the rest of the time. That meant I did not speak with anyone either. I remember watching movies and working on scrapbook pages to fill the time.

 

In other words, I was bored out of my mind. I had moved to paradise, but felt paralyzed. This was not what I was expecting. Such an outgoing, ambitious woman should not have these feelings despite being in another country. Or so I thought…

 

Then I remembered what I had learned over the years about cultural adaptation. Even the most seasoned expatriates experienced culture shock symptoms to some degree. Now that it was no longer just theory, but rather actual lived experience, I realized that I was simply going through culture shock and needed to give myself some time. I would have my ups and disorienteddowns. I just needed to stay the course. I also realized that I could see the situation as a challenge or as an opportunity. I could continue to dwell on the things that were making me miserable or I could change my outlook. I chose the second option.

 

The past eight years have not been easy. I will be the first to admit that. However, taking on an “If you can’t beat them, join them” attitude made it possible for me to get through that first year and those that followed. My Spanish is now good enough that I teach Spanish to other expatriates. I know where I’m going and can maneuver through the traffic without fear. I avoid going back to Wisconsin in the winter because it’s so cold. I’m still not thrilled about power outages, but I know how to deal with them.

 

So if you ask me today if I made the right decision, I will tell you “Yes, I made the right P1030117decision.”  I am happy in Puerto Rico. I have become a successful entrepreneur. I have grown as an individual and have gained an incredible family of friends, students, and supporters. Because of them, I have the courage to continue living here and have the faith to believe that things will get better. Because of them, I am who I am–a free independent AmeRican. On this Fourth of July, I celebrate my independence and my extended family of boricuas who have made my independence possible! Cheers to you all!

 

For more information on relocating to or from Puerto Rico, contact Global Perceptions. We are your relocation specialists in Puerto Rico! From individuals to couples to entire families, we will help you all through the process with cultural orientation, coaching, language, and concierge services. Call us TODAY at 7874557764 or visit http://global-perceptions.com/.

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10 Ways to Date Your New Home

10 Ways to Date Your New Home

By Laurie Melin

 

2013-07-18 11.48.19Relocation is intimidating. Whether your move is regional, national, or international, the transition is an adjustment. Even if you’re excited for the move, the reality is that settling in is not instant. Feeling really comfortable in a new place and within a new group of people always takes time.

 

Besides language differences, what if you cannot find people who share your background or your values or even your interests? What do you do when everything is different from what you are used to and from what you enjoy? How do you connect?

 

Think of life in your new community as a new relationship. How do you build relationships — romantic or otherwise — with other people? You spend time with them, do things together, and talk about their interests, their background, and the things you have in common. As you get to know them better, you build trust and mutual appreciation.

 

“Dating” your new community may not make you fall in love with it, but the activities below can help you get to know it and appreciate it. They may also help you meet local residents and begin building personal relationships that connect you on a deeper level to individuals as well as to the culture you are learning about.

 

1. Make a point of introducing yourself to your neighbors.

When you move into your new home, your neighbors might come to your door or you might walk up to theirs and say hello. In any case, introducing yourself when you meet can be a good way to build a safety net. People watch out for friends, and knowing your neighbors generally makes you safer. Your neighborly acquaintance may also lead to shared conversations, household supplies, gardening tips, child-rearing help, and more. It opens the door to begin interacting at a deeper level with people who are around you every day.

2. Take public transportation if available.

Public transportation gives you a peak into the real lives of real people. Who takes it? How absorbed in technology are they? How much do they like talking with people around them? IMG_1954[1]How boisterous are they? How reserved? How much space do they prefer to leave between themselves? How organized is the line to get on the bus or train? Learn by example what behavior is considered normal and acceptable in these settings.

3. Visit favorite spots of locals and tourists.

Travel guides list beautiful, interesting locations in your new community. Check them out! While you are there, take note: Who comes here? Who enjoys this place? Make a point of visiting local favorites, too. Where do locals go to relax? Where do they go out to eat? Where do they go on the weekend? Many of these places are not in guide books, but they’re powerful points of connection for people who live full-time in your community.

4. Visit art and history museums, landmarks, monuments, memorials, forts, etc.

The monuments, memorials, and landmarks of a place are the most obvious clue to what is and was important to any group of people. Take your own field trips and find out who these structures were built to honor. Learn more by visiting history museums large and small. How does this community discuss and represent its struggles and triumphs? Discover art museums in the area. Who and what do locals connect with? What do they commemorate?

101_22675. Visit churches and/or other religious meetings – even if you’re not particularly religious.

Observing and experiencing the religious traditions of a community is a window into the deepest beliefs and values of that community. Religion always shapes the human experience, and knowing more about the religious past and present of your community can help you understand the people living around you.

6. Start learning the local language.

If locals speak a different language than you, start learning it. This may be the hardest item on this list and take the most time, but it is also one of the most important ways to get to know a place and the people who live there. Do not stress about making mistakes as you learn. Speaking with someone in his/her own language opens the door to a deeper personal connection as you demonstrate your interest in understanding the culture and your desire to become part of it.

7. Plug in to local news sources: watch local TV, listen to local radio, and read local newspapers.

Want to know what people care about? Watch their television stations. Listen to them call in on the radio. Read the op-eds and life/culture sections in their newspapers. Learn about the (good and bad) news that matters to their daily lives as well as the topics that interest them.

8. Learn to cook local food.

While watching local TV, you might find a cooking show. In the newspaper, there might be suggested recipes. When talking to your neighbor, you might hear about or smell a new dish – ask for the recipe! You do not need to change your diet completely, but become familiar with the food your community enjoys. Why do they eat it? Where does it come from? Cook it, eat it, share it, learn to appreciate it….even if you do not want to eat it every night.

9. Explore community life through local eyes: Read their books. Listen to their music. 101_2181Learn the dances they love.

What music do your neighbors listen to? What did they read growing up in school? What do they dance to on Friday and Saturday nights? Build some commonality by experiencing these things, then go out and do/enjoy them with the people around you!

10. Participate in local celebrations, festivals, parades, fairs, etc.

Check out health fairs, holiday parades, independence day festivals, government celebrations, and more. These events happen because the organizers expect a crowd. Find out why people go. How do they connect with the event? Do you connect with it, too? How is it different from a similar event back home? How is it alike?

 

We are not all the same. Deep down, different values and beliefs have shaped people living in different cultures. Our personal and cultural background influences the way we interact with others and the way we see our world. We cannot overcome all obstacles by ignoring our differences, but we can build relationships on mutual interest and respect.

 

Spend time getting to know your new community after relocation. The more you learn about it, the more it may interest you, and the more you may care about it, which makes forming connections with people there much easier.

 

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For further cultural insights useful throughout your transition to Puerto Rico, visit http://global-perceptions.com/. Global Perceptions, your relocation specialist in Puerto Rico, works closely with you, your family, and your company to assure that your relocation goes as smoothly as possible.

Eugenio Maria de Hostos: A Puerto Rican Legend

The Life and Legacy of Eugenio María de Hostos

 

Written by Kerri Applegate

 

Eugenio M. de Hostos

Eugenio María de Hostos was born on January 11, 1839 in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, but for someone from modest beginnings, he lived an extraordinary life. He went on to gain a multitude of titles, traveled to other countries to fight for social injustice, became known for his writing and philosophy, and championed the independence of Puerto Rico and Cuba. He was known for his charismatic and staunch devotion toward humanitarian causes. To tell a small portion of Hostos’s story is to go many places; let’s begin!

Hostos received his childhood education in San Juan, Puerto Rico, but by the age of 13 he was sent to Spain to finish high school, which he followed up with a bachelor’s degree at the University of Bilbao and a law degree at Madrid Central University. During this time period he wrote arguments against autonomic reform and the abolition of slavery, and was a member of a group called Spanish Republicans. Hostos wanted to see Puerto Rico and Cuba gain independence from Spain. When Spain refused to grant independence, Hostos left for the United States, joined the Cuban Revolution Committee, and became editor of a journal called “La Revolución” in New York City.  After two years, he left New York for South America where he advocated across the board for education and humanitarian causes. A few of Hostos’s accomplishments included:

  • fighting against the exploits of Chinese workers in Peru.
  • being the first individual in Chile to fight for women to be admitted into educational institutions. Hostos was known for his support of women’s rights throughout his life.
  • helping to establish the Trans-Andean Railroad in Argentina.
  • working on educational reform in Chile and Dominican Republic.
  • championing the independence of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Dominican Republic and wanting to create an Antillean Confederation.

    Hostos with the Puerto Rican flag

Hostos returned to New York to support the Puerto Rico and Cuban independence movements. After the Spanish-American War there was hope for independence, but Hostos was met with disappointment when the movement didn’t gain enough support in Puerto Rico and the island became a United States Territory. Nevertheless, Hostos continued to support humanitarian causes and went to the Dominican Republic where he worked to further improve education and railway systems. In 1903 Hostos died in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and his remains, per his request, will remain there until Puerto Rico becomes independent.

Being a true writer, he even wrote his own epitaph:

“I wish that they will say: In that island (Puerto Rico) a man was born who loved truth, desired justice, and worked for the good of men.”

 

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For further cultural insights useful throughout your transition to Puerto Rico, visit http://global-perceptions.com/. Global Perceptions, your relocation specialist in Puerto Rico, works closely with you, your family, and your company to assure that your relocation goes as smoothly as possible.

Three Kings Day Across Latin America

By Kerri Applegate & Julie Parenteau

 

It’s a new year and the holidays are behind us, right? Not so fast! On January 6th Catholics around the world celebrate the last of the 12 days of Christmas, called Three Kings Day (or Epiphany). Religious tradition talks of how the three wise men traveled from afar (Africa, Europe, Arabia to be exact) bringing gifts for the new born king, Jesus. Such a long trip was certainly worthy of a celebration upon arrival! Never wanting to miss a party, Latin Americans recognize this holiday, but how they do so differs from one country to another.

The Three Kings

 

In Mexico, for example, Epiphany is celebrated with parades, parties and a delicious cake called Rosca De Reyes. A small doll of baby Jesus is hidden inside this cake to represent how he needed to be protected and hidden. The person that finds the hidden savior has the honor of preparing tamales for another holiday called Fiesta de la Candelaria on February 2nd. She or he becomes the “godmother/godfather” for the year.

 

 

Peruvians in Lima, a city that was founded on January 6th, offer gifts to a live infant who is spread on a blanket in the Andean market. Men dress in traditional clothing and bring small tokens to the baby. A couple representing Mary and Joseph also stand nearby. Like in Mexico, people in Peru cook Kings Cake and hide a plastic doll inside. Whoever finds the baby is said to have luck all year. That person is also responsible for bringing the cake the following year!

 

For Puerto Ricans, the three kings arrive on camel during the night. Children leave small boxes with fresh grass in them (to feed the camels!) under their beds with the hope that the kings will leave gifts behind. On the morning of January 6th, children awake to open gifts. Families attend church and local parades where children can see the kings walking by. People celebrate by eating and drinking holiday favorites like lechon (roasted pork), arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), and coquito (a rum-laced egg nog). Traditionally this day was more popular than Christmas, but close ties to the U.S. have made Christmas almost as popular.

 

Of course these are not the only ways to celebrate this day, but perhaps seeing these makes you interested in what other holidays are celebrated in Puerto Rico and beyond. Stay tuned as we will post more cultural insights throughout the year!

 

For more information on the culture and life of Puerto Rico, or for assistance relocating to Puerto Rico, visit http://global-perceptions.com/. We are your relocation authority in Puerto Rico.

Dancing Through the Adaptation Process

Dancing Through the Adaptation Process

by Julie L. Parenteau, Ph.D., President of Global Perceptions

 

As a newcomer in Puerto Rico, I was looking for ways to immerse myself in the local language and culture so that my cultural adaptation process would be a little smoother and so I would be a more credible intercultural communication professor. One of the things that really intrigued me about Puerto Rican culture was salsa dancing. I asked around on campus and one of my students told me about a place nearby that was starting salsa lessons. I vowed to find out more. The following week, my cultural orientation to life in Puerto Rico grew to include what would become an incredible personal passion. Let me tell you how it all started….

Y todo comenzo....

Y todo comenzo….

Seeing the line of people standing outside the local club, I feel anxiety rise within me. I took some salsa lessons in the States, but this is Puerto Rico, home of all things related to salsa, and that alone makes me nervous. Stepping out of the car, I slowly walk the dark street to join the line. I have no idea what I will find inside, but I am hopeful. I love salsa music and the dances that accompany the music so this will be an adventure. The line moves and within minutes I walk into the space. Noticing how many people are inside already, I wonder, “Is it really possible that all of these people fit in here? And how can we dance like this?” Looking around, I spot another American guy and walk up to introduce myself. He greets me and tells me he’s from Iowa. “What a coincidence,” I think, “another Midwesterner who looks like me and lives here, but speaks fluent Spanish and is interested in salsa dancing.” I didn’t think there were any other people like me around so this is a nice twist. We talk for another minute before the instructor steps onto the stage.

“Damas y caballeros, bienvenidos a nuestra primera clase de salsa,” the instructor begins adjusting the microphone attached to his lapel.

salsa cambio en clave

Cambio en Clave! The key to my success!

The wide-eyed audience looks at him, waiting for the first step. My new friend and I get into a line of people and face the instructor.

“Uno, dos, tres, cinco, seis, siete.”

Trying to see around all the others in front of us, our feet begin to move. “Oh yeah, I remember this!” Thankful for the previous lessons, I blend into the rest of the group as much as a white girl can. The class continues as we learn the first few steps. This part is easy.

“Ahora vamos a hacer las vueltas,” the instructor calls with a smile in his eyes.

Uncertainty waves through the audience as everyone starts talking to each other about how difficult turns are. Personally, I am wondering how we’re going to attempt turns when we’re packed in this space so tightly. Then I think about how easily Puerto Ricans fit their cars into the most impossible places and figure that if they dance like they park, this won’t be so bad. With a quick reminder of the order of the steps, I catch on. “Gosh have I missed this,” I admit. Feeling a bit nostalgic, I look around at the other people. Most people seem to be getting the idea. There is one guy however, who just can’t seem to make his feet move in the right order. Believing that I have enough skills at this point to teach him this basic turn, I offer to help him. After a couple of minutes he is turning on his own. “Mission accomplished!” I gloat, wondering if he ever thought a gringa would be teaching him salsa.

Putting new moves to the test!

Putting new moves to the test!

As the class comes to an end, I look to my American friend and ask if he’ll be back next week. He assures me that he’ll be there and we part ways. I drive home thinking that maybe despite all the other issues that I’m having, something about this country has redeeming value. I commit to making space in my schedule to participate in these salsa lessons each week because they make me believe that there is hope for me on this island.

 

Adapting to a new culture is challenging for all. If you are thinking of moving to Puerto Rico, I can help. I have been through the adaptation process in personal and professional settings and want to help you avoid the pitfalls that I discovered along the way. Don’t hestitate! REACH OUT TODAY and learn what it takes to successfully adapt to the culture and language of Puerto Rico!

Global Perceptions is a full-service communication and relocation consulting business based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. For more information on our services, visit www.global-perceptions.com or call 787.455.7764.

Cultural Orientation Services for Your Relocation to Puerto Rico

Global Perceptions offers the complete package! By Julie L. Parenteau, Ph.D.

 

Have you had a cultural orientation program for your move to Puerto Rico that left you with more questions than answers? Have you had a poor experience with your relocation agent? Have your family members struggled to adjust to the life and culture of Puerto Rico? Has your job as an expatriate executive been impacted as a result? Do you feel left out because language lessons were not included in your relocation package?

Come and see the jewel of the Caribbean!

Come and see the jewel of the Caribbean!

If this has been your Puerto Rican relocation experience, then we are glad that you have discovered Global Perceptions. Our custom-designed services offer you and your family members thorough, honest, and ethical cultural orientation programs. We assess the needs of your family and then design cultural orientation training curriculum to meet those needs. We make certain that everyone, down to your treasured family pet, knows what it takes to successfully adapt to life in Puerto Rico.

But we do not stop there! We also provide language learning courses for all ages. We want you to adapt to your new culture effectively and recognize the need for language

Our President teaching an English Class

Our President teaching an English Class

skills to achieve this goal. For this reason, we offer individual and group language courses for both Spanish and English learners. Classes focus on teaching you to communicate in everyday situations as you work to adjust, while also helping you understand what others are saying.

Additionally, Global Perceptions works with expatriate executives to increase their understanding of what it means to work with local employees. As newcomers in the local culture, learning business etiquette and protocol is essential to obtaining corporate objectives. We know that and work with you to navigate this important piece of the relocation process. Your success is imperative to us!

Global Perceptions offers you and your family the complete cultural orientation package. We know what it takes to successfully adjust to the culture of Puerto Rico because we have been through that process ourselves. Our staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as you adapt to living in Puerto Rico.

Do not wait! Contact us TODAY! Register for our FREE newsletter and learn more about our services at http://www.global-perceptions.com/

Journey Abroad

Adventures in Study Abroad by Julie L. Parenteau, Ph.D.

 

Fifteen years ago, I embarked on a journey that would forever change my life. I left home to study abroad as part of an exchange program coordinated between my home university and one in Rouen, France. As I look back on that period, I see how that experience shaped my career decisions, personality, and values. This month I will reflect on some of those experiences. I will start with my departure from Wisconsin.

With enough luggage to provide for an entire family, I left for O’Hare airport in Chicago on that brilliant August day. I don’t recall being nervous, but as a 20-year old college kid from a small farm town in Wisconsin who had never lived away from home, I must have been.

Into the Brave New World

Into the Brave New World

All I remember is that I was incredibly excited to go back to France and to visit with my best friend. I achieved a life-long dream of visiting France two years earlier with my high school French class, but this was different. This time I would be on my own, forced to fend for myself without the security of a bilingual teacher to translate if needed. I was fully independent.

After a roughly eight-hour flight, I arrived in Amsterdam, my first stop.  Outside the baggage claim I was greeted by my dear friend who had been an exchange student at my high school during our senior year. Occasional phone calls and Christmas cards kept us in touch, but seeing her waiting for me warmed my heart. It also made managing all my luggage much easier! Thank goodness her father had invested in an American-made car or we may not have fit the passengers and luggage in the car. (Yes, I have since learned to pack MUCH differently!)

Along the drive, I looked around at everything through a jet-lag induced haze. From what I could see, The Netherlands looked a lot like Wisconsin. Lots of farm land and vibrant green vegetation as far as the eye could see.

After we arrived, her family sat down with me to inquire about my trip over coffee and snacks. It didn’t take long for them to see how tired I was and offered to let me sleep for a bit. I accepted.

Clogging around The Netherlands

Clogging around The Netherlands

The next day our adventure began. Before we even left the house, I managed to short circuit their entire home when I used the wrong adapter for my hair dryer. I was mortified!

The rest of the week was filled with trips to fishing villages in the north, museums in the south, a late night bike ride to a pub with her friends, and wandering the streets of Amsterdam. It was just the kind of welcome I needed to ease into the idea of spending four months away from home. It also allowed me to overcome the jetlag before heading into the classroom.

At the end of the week, all of my luggage and I got on a train in Utrecht headed to Paris. As the train pulled into the train station, the nervousness began to creep into my mind. Here I was with an impossibly large suitcase, a duffel bag, a shoulder bag, and a backpack and no idea where I had to go to get my train to Rouen. A young woman stopped to help me, explaining that I had to take a bus to Gare St. Lazarre.

I don’t think I will ever forget the looks on the driver’s or other passengers’ faces as I maneuvered my bags onto the bus. I was every bit the American tourist. My jeans, t-shirt, tennis shoes and incredible amount of luggage screamed AMERICAN! I was mortified once again!

Thankfully, the other passengers helped me navigate the stops to get off at Gare St. Lazarre and I boarded the train for Rouen. It had already been quite a day and I was tired. A woman noticed and started to speak with me. I explained that I would be studying there, which

My Study Abroad Home

My Study Abroad Home

excited her so much that she offered to give me a ride to my university once we got off. Once again all of my bags were loaded up into a European compact, leaving barely enough room for me to sit.

Pulling up to the university gave me a sense of relief. At last, I had made it. This is where I would live for the next four months. This is where I would learn to count on my own ingenuity and become resourceful. This is where I would gain independence and strength of character. This is where I would get lost and find myself. This is where my world would open up and where I would come to numerous realizations about who I was and where I wanted to go in life. Of course I was blissfully unaware of the overall impact of this trip until much later, but as I reflect on the course my life has taken over the past 15 years, I am fully cognizant as to why I am where I am and how I got here. That is a humbling feeling.

 

Please tell me how your study abroad experience has impacted your life by leaving a comment! I would love to hear from you!

For more information on how I have applied my study abroad experience in my own life, visit www.global-perceptions.com

 

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