I've learned so much the past six months. Not just about myself, but about the world! Here are some of my favorite lessons I learned while being overseas.
The value of $1.
I was walking around Siem Reap when I needed a tuk-tuk ride back to my village 30-minutes away. It was just before sunset, around 5pm. If you’ve ever been to Siem Reap, then you know just by walking five blocks you’ve probably gotten asked if you need a tuk-tuk ride at least a dozen times. There are an obscene amount of tuk-tuk drivers all over town. Anyway, as soon as I needed a ride I asked the first one I saw. I’ve done this ride about 2-3 times already and I never pay more than $8.00. When I told him where I needed to go, I asked how much? He said, “$12.00.” I said, “No. $8.00. I’ve done this ride many times. Always $8.00” He said, “Ok, $10.00” I said, “8.00.” He sighed and said, “Ok, $9.00 because I drop you there but then have no customer to bring back to town.” I said, “Ok. $9.00” and hopped in. A few minutes on the way and he looks in his back mirror with a big smile and says, “First customer.” I thought to myself, it’s damn near 6pm. How could I possibly be his first customer? I asked him, “How long have you been waiting for a customer?” He said, “7am.” He’s been trying to hustle since 7am and I was his first customer after damn near 12 hours of nothing. I will never forget that moment. When he dropped me off, I gave him $10.00 and he drove off with the biggest smile I ever saw. $1 may not seem like a lot but back in the village I volunteered at in Cambodia, $1 was the average wage earned per DAY by a single family. This is because their income fluctuates so much; some days they can make $5 whereas other days they can make $0. I get that bargaining is something you must do in many places of SE Asia; but, the next time you are nickel and diming a shop or tuk-tuk driver, remember that that is their whole entire income and that extra dollar might just mean the difference between dinner and no dinner.
America is not the world.
I thought I knew so much. I thought most of the world did things like we do. But actually, we are different. VERY different. There’s the things you already know like: we use Fahrenheit they use celcieus, we use miles they use kilometers, we use pounds they use kilograms, etc. Then there’s the: we tip they don’t. And the: we serve our meals like fucking monsters and they serve their meals like a little bird is going to eat it (AKA their “burrito” was the size of a mf taquito when our burrito is the size of a small child). We work like crazy and they get this thing called a gap year (period of time where one takes time off between school and work or something like that). And then there’s the things that blow my mind like in Spain they get this thing called Siestas; it’s basically an hour or two in the middle of the day where many shops close and workers stop working so they can all take a nap. WTF?! Yeah. Google that shit. And the biggest thing that blew my mind: In America it costs us thousands of dollars to get a collage education. Guess what. In many Northern European countries, college is free. And so is health care. WHATTTT!!! Just know, America is not the world. We are so different in many many ways.
10am does not equal 10am.
When a flight says it departs at 10am, just know the departure most likely will not be 10am. And when a bus says it will take five hours to get to your destination, just know that it will most likely be another hour or two. Just because. I’ve learned a ton of patience and understanding during my travels. This means always be prepared. Never go on a bus hungry (bc you’ll never when you’ll stop to get food). Never book back-to-back flights with minimal layover time (bc you just might miss the connecting flight). Plan ahead, keep room for error, and don’t get frustrated when things don’t go as planned.
The value of true friendship.
Real friends are hard to come by, so if you got some real ass mf’s, hold on to them. I’m not talking about the ones you go party with every other friday night, or the ones whose posts you “heart-eyes” all the time but never actually hung out and had a real conversation. I’m talking about the real ass mf’s that give you the ugly truth, tell your ass when you’re for real being dumb af, and the ones that are there for you even when you went against their advice three times in a row. The ones that know about every little situation in your life and has basically helped shaped you to be the person you are today. These are the people that you need in your life. Put in the effort to fix things when they’re broken, don’t let boys get between your friendship, and know when to put your pride to the side. SHOUT OUT TO MY REALESTS!!!! I LOVE YOU BITCHES!!!!!
We really are lucky af to live in America.
You may not be rich or own ten Ferrari’s but you have the opportunity to make it happen. Keyword: Opportunity. If that’s your dream, you can make it happen. Many people around the world have hopes and dreams but based on their circumstances, it is simply not realistic. America is full of endless possibility. So many people I’ve met only dream to visit the land of the free. Isn’t that what the people of titanic wanted to do? Go to America to make a better life. That’s probably what your parents or grandparents did for you when they decided to immigrate to the United States. Having had visited so many third world countries and seeing their daily lifestyle and hustle just to get by was truly eye-opening.
Respect other cultures, bitch.
When going to another country, there are rules to follow. Not just out of respect, but for your own safety too. It’s best to do a bit of research before you go. But even if you don’t have time or just simply forgot, you can just do as the locals do. It’s pretty simple. When you go to temples, you must dress conservative and cover your knees and shoulders as a sign of respect. That’s pretty obvious. But when places have to have signs in the middle of the streets that say, “Don’t wear bikini’s in the streets” that should be pretty obvious too right? Yet there are still dem hoes out there in the middle of the street drunk and in bikini with no cover up. You’re in their country bitch, respect their culture & put some damn clothes on. Don’t be that one…
The art of making a dollar stretch
When I first started my trip, I was rich. I mean, I had all my funds available at my finger tips so I was ballin out like "treat yoself girllllll!" But then when I was in my last month and peeking at my bank account I really had to penny pinch. The good thing is, it's unbelievably do-able. First month I was spending a daily average of $50 or so. When I really started to watch my funds, I was spending as little as $7 in a day (that included all day food and a bed for the night)! I did this by booking a hostel that was only $5/night, breakfast included, ate free bread and butter for breakfast, packed my free egg sandwich until I got hungry for lunch, then had dollar Pad Thai for dinner from the lady next door. During the day I chilled at a hammock bar by the river and had a treat yoself mango shake for $1. That's a total of $7 for the entire day! Wheeeee
I am strong, yo.
Shit happens. People flake. Plans fall through. You lose stuff. Miss buses. Run late for flights. Feel lonely. Are stuck in sketchy situations. But alas, you pull through. I pull through. Being brave, positive, and most of all confident is what makes up a strong individual. I've possessed all of these qualities and have reinforced them to became stronger than ever. I've got to say, I'm pretty damn proud of myself.
Be grateful for what you have.
Why do we always want what we can’t have? Why do we focus on what we DON’T HAVE rather than what we already have? You want to know the secret to happiness? Knowing that you already have everything you need. So many people wish to have proper health care, an opportunity for education, a roof over their head in the cold winter nights, AC during the hot summer nights, two legs, two arms, both parents active in their lives. It’s the simple things. Don’t ever take anything for granted. I am so lucky. We are so lucky.
Travel doesn’t have to be expensive!
Everyone thinks travel is expensive; and it can be. But it doesn't have to be! There are so many loop holes to make it affordable. 95% of my trip I stayed in hostels for an average of $3-7/night. Ate street food for $1-3/meal. Did mostly free activities like hiking and swimming and picked and chose an occasional boat tour or canyoneering tour. I volunteered for organizations that provide free food and accommodation. Think of it this way: living on the road is the same as living at home. You don't eat out at a restaurant every night, do you? You don't buy yourself a new outfit every other day, do you? You chill, relax, grab something affordable to eat. Netflix and chill. Yeah, you can do that abroad too! Spend money on an activity once or twice a week, but other than that, eat street food and just chill (what some of this best days consisted of). Budget 90% and splurge 10%. Simple enough?