Tag 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.


Source: http://www.playbuzz.com/josephinemayfield10/whats-your-extrovert-personality-type


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.


Source: http://bit.ly/1DGYtGd

Source: http://bit.ly/1DGYtGd

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 www.global-perceptions.com.


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!

Source: www.leeabbamonte.com

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 www.global-perceptions.com.

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


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


“Linked to the My Global Life Link-Up at SmallPlanetStudio.com” – See more at: http://www.smallplanetstudio.com/2014/02/28/february-mygloallife-link-up/#sthash.LHzXs3QW.dpuf

Why not celebrate Valentine’s Day in Puerto Rico?

Want to add some heat to your cold, winter relationship? Hop on the plane and head to the island of enchantment—Puerto Rico! It’s easily accessible from most major airports and offers so much to tourists and locals alike. Whether your ideal Valentine’s Day includes zip-lining, horseback riding, whale watching, dancing until dawn, or eating an amazing meal, Puerto Rico has just what you’re looking for.

Celebrating adventurously

Take your special someone for a hike through El Yunque, the National Rain Forest, where you can stop for photos near cascading waterfalls as you climb the peaks. Look out over the ocean from the high points and have a picnic. Or try zip-lining while you’re there! You can find information about several companies that offer zip-line services here: http://www.ziplinerider.com/Puerto_Rico_Ziplines.html

If hiking isn’t your thing, perhaps riding a horse along the beach at sunset is more your style. This slower-paced adventure offers the chance to catch amazing sunsets whether you are in the San Juan area or on the West Coast. The Department of Tourism recommends Tropical Trail Rides excursions. The West Coast also features whale watching tours at this time of year. You can watch from the shore near the lighthouse in Rincón or rent a boat and see them up close.

How about a nighttime swim in one of Puerto Rico’s three bioluminescent bays? Take the ferry to Vieques or head to Fajardo or La Parguera, each of which offers a unique experience to see the phosphorescent life forms that can only be seen in a few places around the world.

For the slightly less adventurous

Remember this night forever by taking a stroll through Old San Juan on a horse drawn carriage. Or choose to meander along the Paseo de la Princesa hand in hand with your significant other. Pack a picnic and head to the area around El Morro for some star-gazing. Or simply cozy up to your partner on a bench and watch the people go by. You can do it all in Old San Juan.

Numerous restaurants in the old town also provide memorable experiences. Whether you’re in the market for seafood, steak, pizza, or vegetarian cuisine you’ll find it all. For local cuisine, try Raíces, Vaca Brava, or Latin Roots. For Mexican and vegetarian/vegan options, La Madre is the best and it’s very reasonably priced. Mediterranean, Latin/Asian fusion, and Indian food are also available in the old town.

Want to work off those calories after dinner? Head to Latin Roots or Nuyorican Café for some of the best salsa music on the island. Whether you can dance or not, just being there is fun, but if you want to learn, Latin Roots offers free lessons nightly. Barrachina also has bomba and plena shows that feature local dances typical of previous generations.

On Valentine’s Day, and all year long, Puerto Rico really does do it better. Come find out why!