This post is a follow-up to my previous post, The Big Move
Wheels down and suitcases unpacked, I’m overjoyed to be in France. Though our hearts and minds are with loved ones and friends in Hong Kong, during this tumultuous time, we were thankful that protestors were dissuaded from occupying the airport on the weekend we flew out. The typhoon that was forecasted to cause problems on that day also died down.
My husband and I survived our long-haul flight and our puddle jumper too. I’m pleased to report there were no crying babies on the two plane rides, only a bit of turbulence and one lost bag that was found a few days later. Running through the airport in Zurich wasn’t fun, but we made our second flight before they shut the door. Arriving safely in Barcelona, we took a fascinating train trip to Perpignan, France.
Unpacking was easy as I had painfully pared down my belongings before leaving Hong Kong. I’m glad I did. Now, I barely remember what I thought I needed. I kept a few things that made me happy when emptying my suitcase though. I look forward to jumping in and getting to know the people and my surroundings.
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” (Oliver Wendell Holmes)
I am again reminded that the details of every day have a way of working out when you boil them down to simply doing the next thing. It’s amazing how everything comes together in the end. I like routine, so I look forward to creating familiar in this new place. I’m already partway there. So far, I know where to shop and how to get around within the bus system. A small yet significant adjustment was when I approached a crosswalk and the cars … stopped. Wow! I was surprised they actually stopped for me. It’s great!
Most everyone here has been friendly with an easy “Bonjour” and “Merci.” Even in a country where the language floating around you is not your own, you can communicate. It takes more effort, of course, more hand motions, facial expressions, and the wonderful world of Google Translator, but it’s possible in the end. Just make sure you don’t simply say the English word … louder … and … slower.
“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” (Confucius)
Language mishaps provide hysterical stories for later-on. Several years ago, when I lived in Mainland China, I ordered two “buts” instead of two “beers” in Chinese. Not knowing right away what I said was wrong, and with everyone at the table laughing, I declared in confusion, “What?!” My family and I still laugh about that to this day. So, if you are traveling someplace that you’ll stay for a while, it’s best to learn the language or at least enough of it to get around. You’re never too old and it’s good for the brain anyway. I’m nearly sixty and am enjoying learning French, though it’s a challenge. Language learning is not as easy as it once was, but it’s also not impossible.
“The gladdest moment in human life is a departure into unknown lands.” (Sir Richard Burton)
So, I’ll put down a few roots in this new soil, learn the language, look for ways to make friends, see what I can do, and create home. My encouragement to you, who want to step outside your comfort zone into the unknown, is to (as my son would say) simply know where you’re going and how to get there … and just make the move!
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s OK. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” (Anthony Bourdain)