Recently I traveled overseas to Jersey–the largest island within the Channel Islands. A few days into the trip I decided to sit down and reflect on how I’ve been challenged and the traveling lessons I learned early on. This was my first time abroad and I was excited to see how I would grow and which aspects of traveling to a different country would be challenging for me. Here are three traveling lessons I learned in three days.

Listening is deeper than hearing what someone is saying

I’ve been flexing my listening muscles even more lately as my ears are adjusting to different accents. The pronunciation of the same word and focus on various letters has me on high alert and has me leaning into the conversation in a different way. While prepping for the trip I knew I would need to really practice listening to those with more thick accents. What I didn’t expect is how listening can be in multiple forms. It’s not just about the words, but what the person is communicating. Body language and facial expressions are common ways to communicate but the pride in having people show me around, share popular sayings with me, and explain what they’re saying has been a joy. I’ve been listening more to what Jersey-folks are telling me and making sure that I take the time to ask them “what does that mean” for everything that we may not have in the USA or that I’ve never heard of before.

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If we never try, we never fail, and we never grow

I wrote this 100% about Google maps not working and it taking me 3.5 hours to get someplace that was supposed to be a 15-minute walk. As I circled and circled, then re-circled the city I was frustrated–but, then I took a moment to dig deeper. Why was I frustrated? Because I didn’t know how to get there. I wasn’t aware which European cobblestone road twisted and turned into another and where that led to. The base of my frustration was in the lack of knowledge but how could I know what I was doing and be 100% in a routine if I’d never done it before? I reminded myself that it had been a long time since I did something for the first time and that I’d tried something new. It’s okay to not get things right. And, on day two I was able to navigate from my hotel to town without directions. Practice and the will to push forward and continue trying was all that it took. I could feel myself developing and growing in a way that I hadn’t before. There I was in a foreign country walking the streets to a co-working spot on day two from memory.

Sometimes we need to get lost in order to see or understand what we’re looking for

This is also a lesson from being 3.5 hours lost in St. Helier. I realized circling the city the places I passed that stood out to me represented various aspects and were things I may have overlooked on the map. A lot of small bits stood out like the way the road curved, a hidden stall of a popular market, the corner barbershop, and the stillness of the park opposite the entrance. There were moments of adventure, stillness, and curiosity woven into the things that I stumbled upon while lost. I was able to discover beauty where I would not have looked had I stuck to the map I had made for myself.

Do you have any traveling lessons that you want to share? Leave them in the comment section below this post.

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