We asked fellow Dreamers Abroad what they would do differently if they were just starting out on their adventures now. After finishing up an Intensive English course abroad in the United States, here’s what Carlos had to say:
WHAT I KNOW NOW
After a trip to the U.S., here are five things that I know now:
- A genuine interaction with another person is just a greeting away. Most of the time we are wrapped up in ourselves. When we´re on the street, we tend to be on the defensive but a smile is all it takes to disarm that defense. One thing that works for me is using tee shirts from TV shows or bands, etc. If you come across someone that likes the show or band on your tee, it is more likely that he or she will be open to talk to you.
- Get out as much as you can. Visit as many coffee shops as possible: you can learn a lot about people by watching how they live, what they do, and what kinds of things they´re interested in. The same applies to art galleries and malls. Be aware of your surroundings, enjoy them, and start a conversation with a friendly stranger.
- Be a good listener. Pay attention. No one likes a person who’s just waiting his turn to talk, so take interest in other peoples’ lives and they will be more likely to see you as a confidant. I have learned that most people are eager to have a meaningful conversation so your goal should be to start one, but this can only be achieved step by step. You can’t talk about life with a stranger without finding some common ground first.
- Walk everywhere and anywhere. You don´t need a cab and you don´t need to wait 30 minutes at the Greyhound station. You would be amazed by all of the things you could find if you just explore the town. Take as many pictures as you can. Photography is a tourist´s best friend as it will make memories more vivid when the adventure is over. If you find a place that seems interesting, maybe a shop, a flea market, an antique shop, a cigar club, just go inside if you feel like it, don´t be afraid to try something new.
- Wherever you go, that´s where you’ll be. Remember that. Traveling is the best way to get to know yourself. Enjoy your time alone, sit on a park bench and enjoy the moment. That´s what this is all about: enjoy your time abroad, have fun, learn, watch, imitate. I found myself often thinking about how my life would be if I had stayed in Florida. It´s a fun exercise that makes me really think about the things that I want in life and where I see myself in the near future. Being present in the moment makes you appreciate the value of the people around you and the ones waiting for you in your hometown. Cherish these moments.
Carlos is writing from Mexico City. He is currently a student at National Autonome University of Mexico and will be graduating at the end of this school year. You can follow his work and read more about him here, stay tuned for more posts.
For more information about our What I Know Now series, please contact us .