Written by Swati
March 6th 2023
They say it takes 21 days to build a habit. How sweet it is to know that your body works with your mind to make sure you thrive anywhere you go. In just three weeks you could be good as new. From weighing my own produce and getting stickers to scan at grocery stores to walking up cobblestone streets and deciding that 30-minute walks to the corners of new cities are good for the soul, every place I’ve been to has been so kind to me. I’m constantly surprised at the patience, gentleness, and warmth I’ve received from strangers and the reminder that every problem has a solution.
As always, here are 5 more things I’ve learned over the last month:
- Make mealtimes fun with friends! This sounds like the tagline to an awful commercial you just can’t get out of your head, but sharing meals with friends in the dorms make for good memories and opportunities to learn new recipes! Whether it’s a risotto or a simple pasta, sometimes life can get hectic and trying to figure out what to buy for your weekly grocery haul feels a bit too overwhelming. Share the burden with your neighbors and bundle in some time to swap stories about your travels!
- Reconnect with old friends and see who you can find nearby. Recently I shared about how I was able to spend time with an old friend from high school, but you’ll surprise yourself with the number of family or childhood friends that are currently in Europe or spent some time here and have recommendations! Keep your community and support system strong by having people outside of the GTE bubble to reach out to and connect with.
- Go grocery shopping in new countries and pick up snacks and easy to eat on-the-go items! If one thing’s for sure it’s that businesses in several countries operate on their own schedules. Some restaurants close in between lunch and dinner, some close after lunch, some open just for dinner. With long days of traveling and arriving in new places at odd hours, try to stop by a grocery store to stock up on snacks and local favorites without the hefty tourist prices. If you’d like a recommendation, I favor Lidl over all of the other ones for both price and quality. Whether it’s a pastel de nata in Portugal or gelato in Italy, grocery stores have their own spin and charm on local classics.
- Take pictures of everything! (Or videos, draw sketches, keep momentos, whatever your thing is.) It’s easy to fall into the normalcy of seeing cobblestone streets and grandiose balconies on every street corner, but I try to keep a collection of photos and journal entries with momentos from each city I go to just to see the differences in architecture and energy between them. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and while I’m unwont to agree completely, each city is unique and having the opportunity to look back on a clear retelling of it is truly something special.
- Try to say something, anything, in the local language wherever you go because the effort is always appreciated. Even if it’s a greeting, please and thank you, and asking if someone speaks English in the local language if you’re truly at a loss for words will get you far in terms of warmth and reception. There’s a reason tourists are often regarded with exasperation and weariness, but showing appreciation and respect towards new cultures and languages will expand and increase the value of your time spent in a new place!
They say it takes 21 days to build a habit, and it’s been a little over 55, I slowly realize I could get used to this life. A desire to live, a desire to survive, a desire to thrive. I realize I’ve talked your ear off about Italy, what can I say it was 10 out of 28 days of the month and few more of preparation. But the sweetness of life is an addicting flavor. Lazy wandering streets and squeezing through back alleyways make the world feel like a treasure box. I’m glad to never know what I’ll find.