Note: This is the second guest post from STL Member Becca Rose. Enjoy and thanks again Becca!
It’s natural for us to want to bring back a souvenir or two every time we go abroad. I know for me, every time I look at the coffee mug from Ireland I’m reminded of the tiny roads and rolling green hills scattered with sheep.
From Paris I have a Longchamp bag, which still feels like an authentic souvenir to me, even though you can buy this anywhere. But it reminds me of the beautiful French woman walking around the counter to hand it to me.
Recently I went through some of my dad’s old things and saw how many trinkets he held onto from his trips. I shook my head as I realized how much “stuff” he had collected. It started to make me think about my own souvenirs and what I could bring back on future trips that would not be classified as “stuff”.
What could I bring home that did not need to be declared on a customs form? What could I bring back that would not someday become old stuff hidden in the back of a closet?
I realized then that souvenirs might not need to be material at all. In fact, there were many souvenirs I had already started to bring home to America.
Our European “souvenirs” can be seen in our new dinner routine. On special nights we will carve up a loaf of bread and dip it in olive oil and a balsamic glaze. The bread might be from Trader Joe’s rather than a fresh Parisian bakery, but it’s an added tradition that’s changed in our household.
When we do this in our tiny kitchen we feel like we’re not at home, but instead transported back on our European vacation. Europe has also changed the time of our dinners as we now often eat dinner around 8:30PM as opposed to our old 6:00PM start time.
And sometimes after dinner we bask in the delight of a small coffee. It might be Dunkin Donuts coffee beans rather than authentic Italian beans, but it’s the caffeine and added conversation that really makes us love this new part of our dinner.
This is another one of our little European souvenirs. One that didn’t have to clear through customs. As you can see, we have started to sprinkle these little moments into our American life.
Stepping out of the kitchen for a moment, another thing I noticed from traveling to and from countries that speak a different language is the barrier in communication. In larger cities such as Paris and Rome, there are plenty of people that also speak English, but you must be more direct than you would be in America. You must say exactly what you mean rather than overlay each word with sarcasm or complex expressions as we do here.
I think over the years I’ve brought back these new communication skills. I’ve tried to use more direct language that conveys exactly what I am thinking. I’ve even found that this has made for deeper conversations and better connections.
Through my continued travels I have continued to collect these souvenirs, all of which don’t require checked luggage. You don’t need to wrap them up in paper to get them home safely and they don’t cost a thing.
I used to skeptically scroll through the inspirational Instagram accounts that tell you travel will change you. I used to think it was crap. But the more I’ve traveled the more I’ve seen the change in me. It’s safe to say that I’ve been converted. The more I’ve explored this world, the more I’ve grown as a person.
What I want to convey with this post is that if you embrace a foreign culture when you’re abroad, you can let the culture seep into your soul and live a different life when you come home. What souvenir is better than that?
About the Author: Rebecca currently lives south of Boston, working for a community bank in their residential lending department. When she is not helping others buy their dream homes, she can be found on kayak.com searching for flights, knitting, or raving about spin class to anyone that will listen.