When long-term travelers are asked if and what they would miss the most on their trip, Germans seem to answer to about 90% the same thing: the German bread.
Personally I’m quite indifferent to the big variety of bread Germany has to offer. As half Italian I adore white bread, and this one is to be found almost everywhere in the western world. Lucky me!
But being back “home” I feel what I miss from abroad much stronger than what I expected to miss from “home” during my travels. Things like the following:
- the opening hours of grocery stores and any kind of supermarkets, as well as drug stores, opened until 10 pm EVERY day, if not even 24/7!
That is so convenient! This way people have the chance to do their groceries without any time pressure. They can even go to shopping malls or elsewhere to get their massage, manicure or pedicure done, or even to the hair dresser at 10 pm!
Remembering how I skipped various “plans” regarding my appearance or social events surrendering to overtime at work, I feel this open minded economy way as a relief. It was torture back then leaving work in time for the stores without having some things done, in order to keep up with your private life. Always being torn between responsibility and permission to treat yourself the right way was a burden for me. I always ended up choosing responsibility. That’s very good for your employer, but he’s still not paying you more for that. And on the long run, neglecting your private life is unhealthy. Of course your own healthy work life balance is only up to you. But when shops are open after working hours, it definitely helps reduce the pressure and stress.
- The natural kindness and happiness of the people you’re working with as well as other people around you.
Coming to work and getting a smile with the “hello” of your colleagues is definitely better than a “hello” without even looking and smiling at you.
Being asked if you need help without you ever making them believe you do, is something that makes one feel so comfortable, just to know that there is always someone who is there for you. Even when you are very independent, it is undeniably a feel-good moment. Maybe you’re alienated at the beginning because you’re used to that selfish behavior by everyone living their own life with the goal of avoiding any interaction with others. Imagine the conscious evasion when it comes to help someone – you either feel nsad or indifferently about it (not knowing different kinds of behaviour). But once you’re in a country with a friendlier, more human, culture, it’s pleasant to get used to that mentality of “there’s absolutely no reason to not help anyone” and “feel free to ask”. It’s the best when you yourself start thinking and offering the same attitude.
While in my country people think you might be crazy if you talk to them without knowing them, in the USA and in Brazil you might learn about a random person’s whole story of life during your bus ride. Not only with a passenger, this can happen with the driver, too. Even if it’s judged by many north Europeans as superficial, this kind of communication made me feel good. It just put me in a better mood. (In the USA it might be more superficial than in Brazil. The helping gene is definitely more visible in South America.)
- The natural way of showing their admiration for others.
When at a concert or a play, or even just in a club, it doesn’t take long for the audience to show the artist their love or to fill the dance floor. Whether it is a band, an actor or a DJ, they all deserve being acknowledged. It’s them having the courage to be on stage and presenting something they worked on and they believe in.
Not only artists receive that kind of appreciation. Also “normal” friends are encouraged to express themselves. Giving compliments about their looks or achievement is natural for Brazilians, as well. Of course there’s also envy sometimes, but not as much as I experience it in my routine environment.
- The art of being themselves without fear of being judged by others
Let’s take a Brazilian wedding taking place in Germany as an example: at 01:30 am the owner of the location turned off the music. The Brazilians already on the dance floor, started singing their favorite songs in a group and dancing to them. They were unstoppable in their joy of having a good time with good music. They kept the party going on on their own! Another example is the “Straight Outta Compton” movie. Of course I enjoyed being their with my favorite weekend buddies, don’t misunderstand me, please! But I’m pretty sure that Americans watching it at the movies didn’t sit still through the whole flick…
The selfie-culture is also less judged in those countries I’ve been traveling. It’s even the total opposite: being extroverted is something they can relate to better than to introversion. Extroversion is being complimented too, rather than being criticized. In Germany sadly it is very much criticized when people don’t keep showing understatement.
- Summer, four times summer!
While Europeans tend to claim they would miss the seasons living in a tropical country, I get immediately the flu when temperatures sink under 25 degrees. My friends were convinced that I would feel the same like most of them once I were in South America and California. They believed I would get bored without the change of seasons. I do understand what a friend in Mexico said, that he likes the seasons because fall/winter makes him reflect more on his life. The mind and the body would need a period of change in order to do that. It makes perfect sense. But the truth is: one day during my 3 months stay in California, from September to November you have to consider!, I was wondering why I haven’t been in such a bad mood like I used to be at home from time to time. My conclusion was the weather as the reason for my uplifted spirit. In fact, during those three autumn/winter months we only had probably two cloudy days and 15 minutes of rain. The rest: complete sunshine. Hot temperatures. Morning swims in the condo’s swimming pool before going to school. Evening swims before going to bed. Even at 10 pm we had temperatures around 30 degrees! Sorry guys, I’m hopelessly made for just that one season: summer. But I’m willing to accept spring, too.
There are also a few things about “home” that I do appreciate again after my travels. Coming up in the next article!