Today I sit, on a bed in a hostel in Zurich, Switzerland. Tomorrow I will connect for our first official meeting with the Global Perspectives Group at the Hotel St. Josef and our orientation. Since Wednesday afternoon, me and two of my GPP cohort members set out on a quick (& I do mean quick) visit to London, England and Paris, France before taking a train to Zurich to meet up with the group.
This has been such a learning experience already. What a wonderful world this earth can be when we stop to appreciate the moments. I have no idea what all else will be in store, but let me share a few things of what I have learned already.
1. The middle seat in the economy class section is not conducive for sleep when you take a red eye flight and do not know your seat neighbors. What little sleep I did get gave me flashbacks to middle school when we had to put our heads down on our desks when the class was being a little disruptive.
2. Heathrow airport has hardworking immigration staff, but nothing can prepare you for the long line for this. Long, long, long. Like waiting on a ride at Disney World when you are 12 years old long. But we made it through. Plus the gentleman that helped me was quite nice.
3. London can be seen on rainy days. We walked and rode all over that city to see some sights. I think my step-tracker clocked me in at almost 21K steps!
4. Whilst I did not get to experience true British Fish & Chips, I learned that most food places we found closed much earlier than we thought. Nevertheless, ended up at a place right by our hostel and had the most helpful wait staff. The food was really great too.
5. Paris is a large city that can be overwhelming if you do not speak the language (which I don’t) or have not visited a major world city (which I have). I learned how brave people are when they visit, move, or work at places that are not their familiar or home countries. Especially those who have a language change on top of the cultural differences.
6. The Eiffel Tower is much taller in person. It felt surreal standing looking at the tower, Notre Dame, and the Arc de Triumph in real life.
7. Regarding subways (or metros, or undergrounds) – public transportation in these cities rock! In London the overhead public announcement system reminded you to “Mind the gap” when stepping off the train and gave signs to show you the “Way Out”. In Paris, look for “Sortie” to help you exit back to the world on top of the streets.
8. I need to learn more languages. Just some basic attempts and little skills seem to really take you a good way. Even so, I need to learn more.
9. Hostels are interesting places if you have not had previous experience with dorm life or something of the like. We met some cool people overall.
10. Graffiti seems to be a form of art that crosses cultures, seas, oceans, and countries. It is evident and somewhat familiar where ever we went.
Finally and most importantly, I learned to be open. To new experiences. To forming new relationships. To opening your mind and heart. Just by taking that opportunity, you can see new things. You may even see old things in new ways.