I’ve been away for a month and a half and started to keep a running list of travel and life advice from friends and family, and things I’ve realized in my short time in Valencia.
1. Be patient. Be patient. Be patient.
There is no country as convenient as the US, and especially NYC. I had the hardest time adjusting to the slower speed of Valencia, Spain, and Europe in general, along with language barriers, cultural differences and the lack of customer service overall. I found myself wondering why the waiter wouldn’t come take our check and kick us out to turn the table, or why the salesperson would not let me pay for toothpaste at 7:01pm. “I closed one minute ago!” she yelled at me in Spanish.
1+ month in, I have become more patient than I have ever been (though some friends may argue that I’m still the same). I wait in lines without huffing, I do not get (as) frustrated when a cafe doesn’t take credit cards, and I definitely continue to use my amazing sign language skills.
2. Lose your old sense of time and routine. Find a new one.
I am a creature of habit and routine. Call me an old soul, an old man, or rigid, but my habits and routines work for me. My NYC routine: 5:30am wake up, make breakfast/lunch/green juice, 7am gym, 8:30am-7 work, then dinner with friends, catch up with my roommate, or read, and bed by 11pm latest.
My friend Brandon’s only piece of advice is: Lose all sense of time. Enjoy the freedom of exploring, wandering, discovering places and things you normally wouldn’t when stuck to a routine. And then slowly start to build a new routine that suits you now, in your new surroundings.
3. People watch, meet the locals.
I love people watching everywhere I go. Meeting locals, however, isn’t easy for me. Despite language and cultural barriers, I definitely want to meet more natives in the countries I am traveling.
4. Get lost.
Back at home, I loved getting lost and finding new ways home. It’s one way to avoid traffic and tourists, but also to find new places I wouldn’t have come across otherwise. I did that in Valencia, Barcelona, Madrid, and Lisbon and stumbled across hidden plazas, tucked-away shops, and super local haunts that made my visits that much more enriching.
5. Stay active, stay fit.
As a traveler, walking everywhere is easy. But I wanted to, at the minimum, maintain my body, with the goal of gaining muscle mass and being the most fit I’ve been. As I do in every city I travel to, I ran through Valencia to see the sights, find landmarks and get a sense of where everything was. I found a gym around the corner from my apartment and finally got in a routine of four (mostly weight training) workouts a week, and brought resistance and Pilates bands to my Barcelona and Sardegna side trips.
6. Document everything. And take lots of photos.
7. Pack less/send stuff home.
8. Break your comfort zone.
9. Be kind to yourself.
10. Remember who you are.
More to come, and why I’ve shared these specifically.
[[ taken at Bluebell Cafe in Valencia, by Becca Kang ]]