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What is the most important lesson you have learned abroad?

What is the most important lesson you have learned abroad?

Old Nov 24th, 2000, 09:57 AM
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What is the most important lesson you have learned abroad?

Lately, it seems, there have been quite a few threads trading insults back and forth between Americans and Europeans.

Regardless of wether the comments were made in jest, or were the actuall opinion of the poster, they got me to thinking.

So I pose this question to Europeans and Americans, as well as all worldly travelers: What was the greatest lesson you have learned while traveling? When was your impression of a place, custom, or person wrong? When was it right?

I'll start. For the most part, I have learned that generalizations are generally WRONG, or represent only a fraction of the people spoken about. This is an important thing for anyone to remember when traveling, either at home, or abroad.

Looking forward to reading your responses!!
Old Nov 24th, 2000, 01:09 PM
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We form mental pictures of places before we ever get there. So often, these pictures do NOT match the actual places once we arrive. Same way with people, I suppose. Our conceptions do not match experiences. Our minds are forever changed. Perhaps this is the truest form of education.
Old Nov 24th, 2000, 01:58 PM
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I have learned that, contrary to popular belief, the entire world does not revolve around the United States.
Old Nov 24th, 2000, 03:20 PM
Bob Brown
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One major lesson I have learned is that the US of A ranks below many European nations in education and health care.
Also, some European nations have done a very good job integrating air and rail
transportation. Many major USA air terminals are barely integrated with a subway system.
Old Nov 24th, 2000, 05:35 PM
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While living in Tobago (small island off coast of venezula ) for a month years and years ago, I learned :
We, in the states get so impatient if we have to stand in a line of more than 4 people.
My first experience at a bank down there, was a line that stretched out the door and down the block.There must have been over 40 people on it!
*a chicken in every pot, and two cars in the garage*
The other thing I learned was how much for granted we take things such as well stocked food markets, decent health care (I severely sprained my ankle while there), phones that work.

The last thing I learned on that trip was how wonderful ,kind and generous many people can be, even if they do not know you.
Old Nov 24th, 2000, 06:11 PM
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"It's not bad, it's just different." I learned this when I was an exchange student twice to Europe when I was in high school.

When you lead a life that is completely different than what you are used to, it makes you appreciate all that you have and to understand that the way you have always known, might not be the best for everyone, or even for yourself!
Old Nov 25th, 2000, 06:17 AM
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Good manners are appreciated everywhere.
Old Nov 25th, 2000, 10:47 AM
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I had always thought that many Europeans carried a "chip" on their shoulder for Americans for one reason or another. What I was happy to find out is that Europeans, like Americans, are just human beings and if they have a nasty disposition it will affect anyone they encounter no matter what country they are from. If they are well mannered they will be polite to you without concern for your nationality.

I, also, was quite impressed with their excellent rail and transportation systems, especially in Switzerland. I would love to see the US learn from them and come more up to date with ours. Maybe everyone here would not "have" to own a car if we had better connecting transportation systems.
Old Nov 25th, 2000, 10:49 AM
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Never judge a town by its train station.
Insure your Eurailpass.
Help others along their European journey and their life journey.
Have faith in the kindness of others.
Put a copy of your itinerary in each piece of luggage including and especially the pouch with your documents.
Pay it forward.
Old Nov 25th, 2000, 01:51 PM
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Before my first European trip, I thought that the newer something was, the better it was. I learned that old things (hotels, architecture, building methods, art) have a lot of charm, and now I much prefer older things to newer things.
Old Nov 25th, 2000, 04:34 PM
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I can enjoy myself anywhere.
Old Nov 25th, 2000, 05:37 PM
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Don't knock it down just because it's old. We in the U.S. tend to want to replace the old with new rather than maintain the old and create history. I've learned that there is nothing better than walking into a 500 year old building and feeling the history all around you. It is the most satisfying feeling I get when I'm in Europe. So, what I have learned is that we Americans have a lot to learn.
Old Nov 25th, 2000, 07:26 PM
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Surprisingly enough, I've learned to appreciate my native USA more through European travel. I LOVE Europe, have a great time wherever I go, but prior to an encounter in Ireland, I tended to prefer European culture over my own in some ways. An Irish woman in a pub set me straight (nicely), saying that as an American of European descent I had a skewed view, and should more fully appreciate the USA's history (especially pre-European!). I was humbled and thankful.
Old Nov 26th, 2000, 12:59 AM
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The greatest lesson is to make sure you do your homework before you travel - read-up about your destination so you have some idea about where you are visiting, the local culture and language. Be relaxed - expect to be delayed and don't expect everyone to speak English! BE EDUCATED!!

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