SURVIVING THE INTERNATIONAL UNKNOWN – FIGHT THE INTROVERT WITHIN YOU

I consider myself to be a bit of an introvert.  Something that my friends and family might be surprised to learn is that I actually find the most peace when alone with myself.  Despite my outgoing nature I see my natural state to be that of quiet solitude, having no problem barricading myself into my house to be alone with my hobbies and interests.  However, something that I learned a long time ago is that the world doesn’t work in isolation. There is much to be gained from having an outgoing, personable manner about you, and this is particularly true when traveling abroad.

I swear that my desire for solitude isn’t my fault!  Many people, especially from other countries, see Canada as street without once having to say hello to anyone.  This becomes particularly apparent when you spend time in other countries and experience firsthand what the alternative can be.  Rather than hiding from social engagement, you will see that the people in your city/neighborhood actively search out social contact, relishing any opportunity to shoot the breeze with anyone and everyone.

I can tell you from experience that this might serve to irritate you at first, as your ten minute walk to buy milk can turn into a 40 minute meet and greet.  However, once you are able to make peace with this ubiquitous socialization you’ll never look back.  The warmth and personable manner you’ll experience from seemingly perfect strangers makes it impossible to feel alone, as though everyone around you is a long time friend or a distant family member.  Sure, most conversations will likely revolve around generic small talk, but these broken-record topics are simply just an excuse to interact with you, as well as you with them.

No matter how much you may want to stay within your reclusive existence, fight the urge and strike up a conversation.  Ask you bicycle taxi driver to teach you a few new words in the local language, or ask the mango shop owner how he thinks the president is doing so far, or mabye just answer some of the endless questions the people around you undoubtedly have.  Put simply, force yourself to emerge out of your potential reclusiveness and you will find that it isn’t all that desirable after all.

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