Category Archives: Travel

Can traveling turn extroverts into introverts?

Can traveling turn extroverts into introverts?

By: Julie L. Parenteau, Ph.D.



If there is such a thing, I am a certified extrovert. I’m the one who strikes up a conversation with who ever happens to be in the checkout line or elevator. I usually sleep on the plane, but if I didn’t, I would talk your ear off all the way to our destination. I have always been this way. In Puerto Rico, where I have lived for nine years, they would call me “bien presentá.




I think part of this way of being stems from being the oldest of four and having to find ways to stand out from my siblings to get attention. It also comes from moving so many times. Every few years I found myself in new situations and cities, interacting with people from different cultures, however culture may have been defined at that time. Being afraid of meeting new people would have kept me from getting much needed information and would have kept me from making friends. It would not have worked for me at all.



Knowing what an extrovert I am, why would I purposely choose to travel on my own?


I travel on my own in part because I am a hugely independent, self-sufficient woman who gets tired of bending to the needs and desires of others while traveling. I don’t travel often so I want to see and do what I am interested in when I do travel. Botanical gardens, art museums and “off the beaten path” places are more to my liking at this stage in life.


Right behind seeing what I want to see is having the chance to escape both mentally and physically. Spending time by myself allows me to grapple with my own thoughts and think through things that I have filed away for times like this. Traveling on my own allows me to reflect on who I am, what I want out of life, where I might want to live next, and why I need to travel more frequently. It gives me the time to consider relationships with others and how I can strengthen them or move on from them.


This mental and physical break allows me to truly be outside the confines of my own little world and let my mind wander. Some of my best business ideas come when I walk away from the office and simply ride the brainwaves wherever they may take me. The little voice that often finds fault with and rejects new ideas gives way to the one that reminds me that the possibilities in life are limitless. I walk away feeling rejuvenated and energized to start turning those ideas into reality.



Being on my own during this process allows me to think clearly and deeply without interruption. While I can count on meditation practices to help me do this at home, physically removing myself from all the energy-sucking daily chores present in my house helps me reach further mental depths. In a wide open park in the middle of London or alongside the shores of Lake Zurich, with my eyes wide open, I find a level of inner peace that I do not know in my daily life. It makes me think that maybe there’s something to being an introvert…for a few minutes anyway.



How does this brush with the introvert world impact my day-to-day life?


The challenging part for me is finding a way to hold onto that inner peace, that calming wash of light that both centers and energizes me, when I return. Once I’m back in the daily grind of life, I feel a pull toward the laundry and dishes piling up, returning client calls, and running errands around metropolitan San Juan. And yet, there is also a pull in the direction of the shores of the Mediterranean and ancient Roman ruins where I found my spiritual connection. How to incorporate the two into my life–that is the question. I have not yet found the answer that works for me. However, I will keep searching for it because even this mega-extrovert needs some quiet time to process her thoughts from time to time.




Dr. Julie Parenteau is an intercultural communication consultant and language instructor living in San Juan, Puerto Rico. To find out how to work with her or contract her as a speaker for your upcoming event, visit


Why I said “Screw the bank account!” and opted to travel anyway

Why I said “Screw the bank account!” and opted to travel anyway

By Julie L. Parenteau, Ph.D.


A few months ago I was asked to participate on a panel at an international conference in Spain. I felt honored and excited about the possibilities to network and meet so many new and interesting people. Then I looked at my bank account…the reality was that there were no funds for this trip. Feeling deflated, I walked away from the email invite. I had been trying to get back to Europe for at least five years, but owning my own business was tough. I had always paid my bills, but there was not much left over to travel. Then there was the question of leaving my clients behind. Who would take care of them? And how would I make money while I was gone so that I could continue to pay the bills upon my return? Nope, this trip could not happen right now.

One week later I still couldn’t shake my disappointment. I REALLY wanted to go. I knew that this spelled financial disaster, but I decided to talk to my partner about it anyway. Less than a year into our marriage, I was considering leaving him and our dogs behind to travel through Europe for five weeks on my own. I explained that I could stay with friends most of the time to save money and I would avoid buying anything unnecessary (i.e. souvenirs). After a healthy discussion, we decided that I had to take this trip despite what the bank account said. It was simply something I couldn’t pass up.


One thing you should understand about me is that I am not someone who makes financial decisions lightly. I am very careful with regard to my spending habits so that there is money for things that we want or need to do from time to time. However, the economy in Puerto Rico has depleted anything extra that I have meaning I would literally take this trip on shoestrings. Knowing this, why would I walk away from my business and partner to go traipsing across Europe? These are just a few of the reasons.


1) As an intercultural communication scholar and practitioner, I need to be exposed to different cultures. The linguist in me needs to find opportunities to practice rusty language skills and learn new languages. Feeding my passion is a necessity!

2) Life on an island becomes confining. There are only so many places I can go and only so many viewpoints I can experience. Getting off the island puts me in contact with people who live and think differently. It helps boost my creativity.

3) My business depends on it! Being an entrepreneur is a lonely endeavor at times. Spending too much time with my own thoughts makes it easy to subconsciously sabotage myself. Being in a new place sparks new ideas and helps work through roadblocks. It certainly helps me!


4) It’s a challenge! Living the same routine day in and day out becomes monotonous (in my opinion). Without challenges to overcome, life is dull. Traveling provides new challenges like navigating the city, getting on the right train, or explaining a problem to someone who doesn’t speak your language. These trials can be more difficult to navigate than making major business decisions, but they remind me that overcoming roadblocks, no matter how small, is part of what makes like interesting.

5) Intercultural education opportunities abound! While traveling I experience cultural nuances ranging from food to celebrations to music. I learn from what is going on around me, but I also educate others about life in Puerto Rico. Upon my return, I teach friends and family about what life is like across the pond. It’s a gift that keeps on giving!


Now that I am back, I am so happy that I went on this trip. It was definitely what I needed in order to strengthen my business and my personal and professional relationships. I do not necessarily recommend putting yourself further into debt to take a trip like this, but for me, it was the right decision because in the end there are…



Dr. Julie Parenteau is an intercultural communication consultant and language instructor living in San Juan, Puerto Rico. To find out how to work with her or contract her as a speaker for your upcoming event, visit

This article is featured on the Small Planet Studio #MyGlobalLife Linkup. Add your blog on the last Friday of each month!


Global Customs for Public Displays of Affection

Global Customs for Public Displays of Affection

Written by: Julie L. Parenteau, Ph.D.


This week we are celebrating love and friendship at Global Perceptions by looking at global customs of affection. We start the week by examining norms for public displays of affection. Etiquette for Public Displays of Affection (PDAs) varies across cultures. The consequences for breaking the rules can be life-threatening, making it important for expatriates, travelers, and study abroad students to understand cultural norms.

Courtesy of

Courtesy of


Couples across Korea limit the amount of public affection shown. Koreans will hold hands, but kisses are very unusual even for those who are dating. Such displays are saved for more private locations. One major difference about Korean culture is that good friends, regardless of gender or age, also hold hands as a demonstration of their friendship.


In much of the Western World, hugs and kisses are standard ways of greeting friends, family members and romantic partners. Couples are known to hold hands, drape their arms around each other and steal more intimate kisses on occasion. Latin and Southern European cultures who are known for being more effusive, may even consider slightly more touching to be appropriate. Groping, however, crosses the line.
Rules for PDAs in the Middle East and China are much stricter. In China, for example, only people of the same sex are permitted to hold hands in public, while in the Middle East

Courtesy of Delaware Employment Law Blog

people may be imprisoned for kissing in public. Such acts go against religious traditions.


Whether or not you agree with these cultural norms, it is best to abide by them at all times to avoid serious repercussions. So celebrate your affection where it is it culturally acceptable, but keep your hands to yourselves where it is not allowed. You may find that it is challenging to adjust but that the change is just the spice your relationship needs.


For more information on living and working effectively across cultures, please contact Global Perceptions, your relocation specialist in Puerto Rico!

Spotlight City: Cabo Rojo

Don’t Miss Cabo Rojo!

If you are considering traveling to Puerto Rico, are new to the island, or just need a diversion from your daily routine in the metropolitan area, head to Cabo Rojo! Cabo Rojo, located on the very Southwestern tip of the island, is a small community that offers big time views. Those views, and much more, make Cabo Rojo a must-see despite its distance from San Juan.

Although a trip to Cabo Rojo and back can be completed in a day, it’s a long day of driving so most people make a weekend of it, staying in one of the many small hotels or paradors in the area. Grand Bahía Ocean View Hotel, one of these hotels, is sandwiched between the salt flats and the mangroves, providing a secluded area from which to watch the sun set. The chefs and wait staff at the on-site restaurant, Agua al Cuello, never fail to give you an unforgettable dining experience of fresh seafood and delectable desserts.

From the pool deck of Grand Bahía Ocean View Hotel you can see the Cabo Rojo Lighthouse off to the left. This is an ideal place for photographers and travel enthusiasts. El Faro Los Morillos (as it is called in Spanish) was constructed in 1882 to help sailors through the Mona Passage. Today it is one of Puerto Rico’s most picturesque sights. Set high above the Caribbean waters atop limestone cliffs, the Cabo Rojo lighthouse stands as a beacon summoning visitors and residents alike. Be sure to bring your camera because these are images you won’t want to forget. And keep children near you at all times since there are no guardrails to protect them.

On the other side of the lighthouse is Playa Sucia, a secluded beach for a refreshing dip after climbing the hill to the lighthouse. This inlet in the Caribbean Ocean is a favorite among locals, but can be a challenge to get to if you have kids or lots to carry. Our recommendation would be to pack light because the path is not always accessible via automobile. That way you can truly relax beachfront and enjoy the incredible view and warm sunshine.

For nature enthusiasts, the area also features the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge. Those up for a good hike will witness native birds and plants while wandering through the subtropical dry forest. In and around the Interpretive Center (open Thursday through Sunday) you can get more details about the history of the area, including the salt flats, as well as the birds that frequent the area. Guides are also available for a fee. Be sure to bring your sunscreen, bug spray, and water and wear appropriate clothing for hiking! The trails are not long, but the sun is hot!

As you can see, for rest and relaxation, Cabo Rojo is where it’s at! Make sure to include it on your Puerto Rican bucket list!

Watch for other Spotlight City posts from around Puerto Rico courtesy of your Relocation Specialist in Puerto Rico, Global Perceptions!




Vegan food options in Vieques, Puerto Rico!

New to Puerto Rico? Struggling to find healthy food alternatives? Try these tasty ideas for your visit to Vieques!

Lighthouse in Vieques

Lighthouse in Vieques

For additional relocation assistance following your move to Puerto Rico, please contact Global Perceptions. We provide relocation and language learning programs for your whole family as well as corporate communication training. Contact us today!



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