Traveling: a working vacation

"Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take ya, Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama, Key Largo, Montego baby why don't we go..." Oh the Beach Boys.  Fine, twist my arm why don't you.  Go to the beach, get my tan on, sip on some coconut juice with a "splash" of rum?  Sounds like heaven!

Or, I could travel to Spain, eat some paella, watch the Flamenco, do a little Salsa! The possibilities are endless with a world this big!

What is interesting though is that with all of these exotic and cultural places you actually learn something while you sit on the beach or eat paella.  You may not realize it now, but your interaction with the people and the culture is a valuable asset that cannot be taught in school or by your parents.   Whether you are studying abroad or just on vacation, you still learn about your surroundings.  With that knowledge, you can take it and apply it to your life at home.  More specifically your job.  Use your wordly views as a way to broaden not only your own horizons, but those of others.

What are the differences you notice while traveling?



When you travel you are subjected to an environment that is different than what you are accustomed to.  The culture, the food, the people, the list goes on. For example, say you travel to Spain to study for six months. Your first observation is that obviously everyone speaks Spanish.  Secondly, you realize you are not in Nebraska anymore.  You soon begin to figure out that the way of life is different from back home.

  • Siesta Time

In Spain, they take afternoon "siestas" or naps and most stores close for a few hours.

  • Markets and shopping

Another cultural difference is that when they go to the market for food, they do not buy large quantities, only what they need for that day and maybe the next.  At home you are used to buying for the week, or even some items in bulk.

  • Nightlife

The hours for nightlife are a bit different as well.  It is common in Spain to begin your night about 1 in the morning and end around 5 or 6 a.m. Depending on where you are from in the United States that may be similar, but most places do not stay open that late.

  • Spanish time

One very big difference is that in Spain, you are on Spanish time.  This is the mentality that, it will get done, when it gets done.  It is more relaxed and at a steadier pace.  When compared to the U.S it may be slightly frustrating because in the U.S everyone is in a hurry and is constantly on the go.

  • No tipping

At restaurants in Spain, you can but usually do not leave a tip.  A strange concept if you come from the states because that is how servers in the U.S make their money.

  • Cars and transportation

The cars in España are much smaller than in the U.S.  Public transportation is also very common.  Depending on the size of your city in the U.S, public transportation is also widely used, however it is also very common to drive to work in big cars or trucks.

  • Language

Obviously in Spain they speak Spanish.  However, similar to English, they have one word with multiple meanings or synonyms. It is already hard enough to learn a different language, but that just adds to the confusion. What is even more confusing is that there are different dialects and accents of Spanish, making it harder to understand if you are not fluent.  It is also very common for those living in Spain and much of Europe to know English as a common language.

What can you learn from these differences? How can they help you?

With all of these different points, how can that help you in your job?  Why does it matter? The answer is subjective.  However, what is true is that experiencing these differences you become more wordly and open minded which can help you understand your own work environment.

  • Enjoy life

Take time to smell the roses.  Yes, it is important to work hard and achieve our goals but we must not lose sight of what is important.  Family and friends play a large role in life and if those aspects are neglected there are many opportunities that you can miss out on.

  • Respect and understand

Traveling opens your eyes to unfamiliar situations.  Often they may be uncomfortable, but what you learn is to respect the views and opinions of others.  You may not agree or be accustomed to what is said or done.  However at the end of the day you learn that everyone is different, whether they are from Spain, or one of your coworkers at the desk next to you. Understanding a different point of view is essiential in the work environment.  Each day you meet a new person, with a new personality, with new views and a new sense of being.  Understanding where they come from and why they think what they do can help you to read that person and to strategically use that knowledge to target their likes and dislikes.

  • Creativity

Seeing different traditions and ways of life allows you to open your mind and see more than one road to success. You see what works in one country as far as ways of transportation or how they communicate with each other and you can take that and relate it to your home.  Use those ideas and that knowledge of differences to create new ideas and to build a bank of experience and wisdom to share in company meetings or even conversing with friends.  Show others that there is more than one path to take to get to their destination.

  • Grow

Traveling helps you grow as an individual.  It is not always clear what you want out of life or out of a job or a relationship.  However traveling allows you to see yourself and to know what you personally want.  This is the most valuable piece of knowledge because only you can discover this on your own.

Being a well-rounded person takes more than a college degree and experience with internships and jobs.  It takes the assests that cannot be taught such as patience, respect and self-knowledge to really become a person of experience and wisdom. Next time you go on vacation or take a break to study abroad, really enjoy your surroundings and soak up all that you can. The information you gain is immeasurable.

 

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