Midnight Ramblings of a Traveler on the Eve of Being Homeward Bound

– Doing laundry in a shared area between 7:30 and 10:30 pm on a dairy farm is not advisable.
– My sense of justice has repeatedly been violated since leaving my own country. And I’ve only been gone for two weeks!! So far, it has added up to cultural differences. But wow, in the moment… injustice!!
– It is absolute arrogance to treat those who don’t speak your language with contempt or with disdain. I have been no less human these past two weeks than I am at home. I have been no less intelligent or insightful. What I have been is more needy and dependent on the benevolence of others. Offer help and good will; be the one who goes the extra mile for a foreigner! (I have not been mistreated in Germany. I will say, those of us who don’t speak your language know exactly when someone is talking about us, but we don’t know whether you are saying nice things or not nice things about us…)
– Pack less. But not too little! There is no one standard that is a perfect balance… I think one must travel enough to eventually figure it out!
– Take the picture, ride the new transportation, step out on a limb. There are rarely second chances to do new things.
– Visit the flea market, the smaller church/temple, the grocery store. Remind yourself that people live here and this is not an artificial environment created for your own pleasure.
– Ask questions of the locals, but ask for permission first.
– Buy from the craftsman, the farmer.
– See beauty in others’ everyday surroundings, then go home and see beauty in your own.
– You don’t have to see or do everything. In fact, it is impossible. Enjoy what you do and don’t mourn the inevitable things you don’t get to!
– speak the language, as much as you know, as often as possible. You aren’t stupid for not knowing the language… You just don’t know. That can be changed! (I really, really struggle with this. I wrote this one as a challenge to me!)
– Learn a language. Any language, but one that is spoken somewhere today! Even if you don’t have time, even if you are adult, even if you have no plans of traveling. It is good for the brain, it is good for the heart to connect with people different from yourself, and it is good for the soul and breeds humility.
– Go home. Home is good, despite its imperfections.

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