Last week I talked about the first rule of living abroad – letting go of expectations. Destroying your assumptions can release you from so much headache and disappointment when you go abroad. Now that you’ve removed your expectations – it’s time to be brave.
What’s the second most important thing to do when you move abroad? Start saying yes.
Say yes to a free sample at the gelato shop, say yes to the waiter’s recommendation, say yes to a last minute invite to cocktails with acquaintances, or say yes to going to the cafe for a coffee even if you’re not in the mood. Whatever it is, don’t think about it too much, just say yes.
Saying yes automatically might not sound 100% comfortable and I agree, it can be scary and unnerving. All kinds of doubts run through your head when you agree to something that you normally wouldn’t. “I don’t know these people well enough, how can I travel to Morocco with them?” or “Is this person being nice or trustworthy? How do I know this isn’t something else?”
When I moved to Barcelona, I knew I wanted to travel around while I was there – I just didn’t really know where. So once I started making acquaintances and friends in town, I would occasionally drop how I wanted to hop around if I got the chance.
Eventually a girl in my class invited me on a trip to Ireland for two days. The trip was with a group of my classmates who I knew in varying degrees and the trip was super short, barely 48 hours from leaving to returning.
Everything in my brain said “Nope, that’s too short. You don’t know them that well.” but my traveling gut said “YES!” That trip made me fall in love with Ireland, and I’m so glad I went with them because they became good friends, we had such a blast!
Most of the time when I said yes, was to invitations on trips. I personally didn’t organize any foreign trips while in Spain (which is weird for those who know me). Instead I would make day trips to the coast or up to the country on my own or invite others to come with.
But all the international trips I went on were from people inviting me. All I had to do was let go of my fears. From Granada, Seville, Ireland, and finally to Morocco. Each time I was completely nervous at the beginning – ‘What was I thinking!? I barely know where I’m going or these people.’ Then after jumping in head first (and remembering rule number one) I forgot all about it and let myself get out of my way.
Saying yes was responsible for building unlikely and fast friendships at a time when I felt lonely, and gave me a great amount of confidence in my ability to do anything. I said yes to anything they wanted to do, and where they wanted to go. I conquered fears of traveling alone, making friends with locals, and putting myself out there when I didn’t always feel officially ‘invited’.
This last photo is from a crazy tradition in Barcelona called Correfoc. Literally meaning, fire run. This tradition is hundreds of locals running through the streets with giant floats and costumes – all devil like in nature, and shooting fireworks at each other. Yup – at each other.
It was one of the most thrilling and exciting things to partake in and I had an amazing time laughing until I was sore and smiling with all my friends as we ran and pretended to be terrified at the sparklers. I met all these friends by saying yes, I was running through fireworks because I said yes, and I was only living in Barcelona because months before that, I had said yes.