by: Mary Greenwell, 2017 Around the World Programme Intern
With the help of ACTE and BCD Travel, I have recently found myself traveling in the US, Brazil, China, India, Sweden, the Netherlands, and lastly Zambia (this one, on my own time) through the 2017 Around the World Traineeship Programme. Apparently these seven countries did not suffice my travel bug, so in less than a months’ time, I will be en route to continent number 6 (Australia) for a bit of an escape from my Michigan winter. (No, I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list! And I don’t have as many frequent flyer miles as you think I do.)
Though each of these countries and cities has varied undeniably in many exciting ways, they have offered similar lessons. They also reinforced my choice of pursuing this industry. Throughout my travel, my passion for building relationships with people has been affirmed time and time again. I love to learn what makes each person unique from another, especially from culture to culture. I have been honored to meet and befriend the people of NYC, Sao Paulo, Atlanta, Hong Kong, Beijing, New Delhi, Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Lukulu throughout the summer. Debatably of less importance, this summer also reinforced my passion for food. I still dream of Brazilian steakhouses, dumplings in Hong Kong, and french fries in Amsterdam.
Overall, I’m infatuated by the learning resulting from traveling. It is a form of education unique to anything else—knowledge obtained from touching, feeling, and experiencing. Travelers are forced to appreciate just how vast and diverse the world is.
So anyway, here are a couple of tips for post-grad world travel!
Keep your expectations in check. Sometimes the places you expect the least from will surprise you, and vice versa! Expectations can make or break an experience. So be sure to continuously take inventory of your expectations and attitude. As a general rule of thumb I like to try and be as open-minded as possible and give things the benefit of the doubt.
Trust your gut. Let’s just say, I’ve been burned before.
Work hard, play hard. You are stronger than you think…sleep when you’re dead? This philosophy is more applicable to short term travel–for example, 6 weeks of globetrotting with built-in breaks. Regardless of your travel style, take frequent naps and drink loads of espresso.
Listen. While in Utrecht, we had the privilege of meeting Stewart Harvey, the President of BCD Travel EMEA. He mentioned to us that “there’s a reason God gave us two ears and only one mouth.” There is so much truth to this. Too often, as people we spend altogether too much time speaking. Rather than truly absorbing the information coming out of someone else’s mouth, we contemplate what will come out of our own mouth next. We are all guilty of this. This summer provided me with an excellent opportunity to sit back, listen, and truly absorb the knowledge-rich information coming my way.
Say thank you, in the local language! This goes a long way. Even if your pronunciation is disgraceful, it’s the thought that counts, right? It shows that you’re trying, which helps convey respect.
Ask questions. As a fresh intern, straight out of college, there really is no such thing as a stupid question (painfully cliché, but true). We have virtually nothing to lose and everything to gain. For this reason, it is crucial that we ask why! And that we keep asking why until the concept is fully understood. There is absolutely no shame in needing clarification. In fact, I’ve discovered that almost everyone, not only, appreciates receiving a lot of questions, but respects it. Just ask.
Use local cash. Keep your card hidden deep in your pocket whenever possible. Your identity and your savings are not worth that visa-purchased espresso. Trust me…
Say yes. Try new things. Go for it, even if it scares you. (Exhibit A: eating scorpion. Not bad!) Life is too short to live 100% in your comfort zone. Unless someone offers you weird drugs, then say no.
Travel can teach you more than almost anything else. I’ve said it before and I will say it again. In the words of Yvon Chouinard, an outdoor industry billionaire businessman, “There’s no substitute for just going there.”
Roll with the punches. Stay positive and be flexible. Sometimes incidents are a time to shine, not to mention, an opportunity to learn and grow from your mistakes. The greatest lessons can come from the difficult times. Focus on the good. Be humble.
Build your network! Networking is invaluable! Strike up conversation with anyone, you never know what you could learn with them or what could come of it!
Always pack toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and a snack (or 10). This one speaks for itself.
Write memories and lessons down and take pictures—you will forget more than you realize! That being said, always be sure to spend time in the moment first. Seeing vastly incredible world wonders and breathtaking sunsets with your own eyes will always be more meaningful than seeing them through your phone camera.
Travel educates by touching, feeling and experiencing—often times without even realizing there is learning taking place. Travelers realize just how big, diverse, and special the world is. When traveling, an individual’s worldview expands, bringing their entire global perception with it, and this is invaluable.
Being the millennial recipient of such a unique opportunity with the Around the World Traineeship Programme has provided me with a powerful new insight—an insight involving the concept of commitment as it relates to millennials in the corporate environment. I have been the beneficiary of a powerful corporation’s investment of time and money. This investment has not only revealed to me the value of an employee’s perception of their organization, but also instilled a level of loyalty in me. Commitment is a two way street, as is loyalty. For example, BCD has been loyal in investing in my education. Therefore, I feel committed to investing my time and energy into applying my talents towards the overall success of this company.
Thank you BCD & ACTE! This millennial totally <3s you!!!