My Life as a Traveler

How to Deal

First day arriving in Europe is always hard. Here are some of the reasons:

  1. On the plane the night before, you’ve had about 4 hours of sleep, if you’re lucky, so your body is trying to mobilize all its energy to keep you going (unless you were in first class, where the seats fully recline to make a nice bed). There is a heaviness that you just have to slog through to make it to the end of the day. And you MUST make it to the end of the day, staying up until at least 9pm, to reprogram your sleep schedule. So you’re tired. However, the excitement of arriving at your destination balances that out.
  2. There is also a sense of confusion, even if you’ve been to this place before. How to get around, how to communicate, what to eat, when to eat it, these are things that you need to wrap your brain around to keep moving (see #1 above).
  3. You need to adjust to the weather and general climate. This includes both indoors and out. It’s summertime in France. Last week, 65 degrees was the high, this week it is the low. It’s not as warm and humid as it has been at home, but there is no central air in many places, including our apartment. We have a mobile a/c unit which runs when you open one of the floor-to-ceiling windows to stick the hot air return out, which kind of lets the hot air in from outside… negating some of the coolness.
  4. You have to adjust to moving in a group and adjusting the agenda so that everyone will be happy, or at least as close to happy as they can be. It’s even more challenging, and for us, more fun, to add another person in the mix, like we have with Anna. It is my self-designated job to make sure that everyone in the group is not hungry, too cold, too hot, or miserable.
  5. And then there are thing things that are supposed to work, but don’t. The credit card would not go through when we wanted to pay the apartment rent because the credit card company flagged it as fraud, even though I called them to tell them we would be charging big stuff in France. The mobile a/c unit doesn’t really work like the central air we’re used to. The 24/7 market isn’t open on Sunday. You get the idea.

Bottom line, travel is uncomfortable. It just is. And really, that’s what makes it so great. The push out of the comfort zone is sort of like exercising. The “runner’s high” effect applies when you are pushing yourself to understand and communicate in a different language, be a little hot or cold, nurse a blister, and try different food and find that maybe it’s not your favorite (or finding that it is). And you’re so much the better for it afterwards.

That’s how to deal.

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