I remember stepping off of the metro into Barcelona like it was yesterday. It was a completely different world that we had never been exposed to before. Your first time abroad you make mistakes and learn a lot! Every country is different and it’s important to remember that. Just because it’s not the way you do it, doesn’t make it wrong- just different. I see a lot of people who have never been to another country not realize that things can be done in completely different ways, that’s why I think traveling is important. You learn so much.
I could honestly go on about that forever, so here are three things you should know before you travel abroad!
This is one that I see surprises a lot of people. In Europe and other countries as well, they eat different things for breakfast. For example for breakfast in Europe you will most likely find a spread of bread, cheese, meats, and vegetables. This may seem really weird at first, but trust me it will grow on you! Go ahead and grab some bread, butter, add cheese, and put your favorite veggies on top and enjoy! Trust me, you’ll wonder why this isn’t a thing in America.
Some countries also eat dinner at different times. This really varies country to country. In Spain you most likely will find that restaurants are closed in the afternoon for “siestas” and then not open again until dinner. But dinner for them usually starts at 7-8pm, or even later.
The way you eat may also be different. In some Middle Eastern countries you should not eat with a certain hand. In some countries, like France, you will notice they even eat pizza with a fork or knife.
Garbage disposals are also not a thing. So save yourself the time ( getting grossed out touching wet food) and make sure all your food is in the trash or recycling before you rinse your plate.
I think this one is also something that is really different for some people. In Europe you will find that the bathrooms are smaller, sometimes are separate rooms for a toilet and then the sink and shower, the sinks are super tiny, and the toilets are not filled with water. To flush the toilet you also have to hold down a button depending on what business you did; this changes the amount of water used.
In many countries to use public bathrooms you need to pay to enter. If you plan on exploring the city a lot be prepared and bring coins or plan your bathroom visits around meals.
Some countries may also have bathrooms that are really just holes in the ground. For these you need to learn to master the “squat.”
Because water prices may be high, remember to keep your showers shorter than you normally would while at your own home. The water may not be as hot, so that may encourage shorter showers 😉
I’m sure you have heard someone in your life say “the people in blah blah country were so rude.” While to you they may be “rude” because they are not as outgoing, to them this is very normal. Waiters will not check on you every second (and yes you need to ask for the check, yes it will be weird at first), people will be direct about how they feel, and people won’t smile at you on the street. While this is not true for everyone, it’s just an overall generalization of what to expect. I’ve had really friendly waiters and also locals who have talked to me and were really outgoing, but not everyone.
I think the most important thing is to remember what I said at the beginning, just because it’s not how you do it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. That’s what makes this world so amazing is that we are all so diverse. Traveling wouldn’t be fun if we were all the same!
Wherever you’re going I hope you have a blast!
Where was or is your first trip abroad? What surprised you the most?
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