The Remote Year Learning Curve
Hey Nancy, how’s that group travel thing working out for you? Great question! One thing is for sure: There’s a definite learning curve. This is my first-ever group travel experience as an adult (I was NOT an adult when I spent my junior year of college abroad). I’m definitely learning a lot as I go. Here are a few of the lessons from my first two weeks in Prague.
Go beyond first impressions. The other day, another Remote told me that he’s giving people second, third and fourth chances to make an impression and I really appreciate that approach. I was probably tired and a bit irritable when I first arrived, and I hope people will forgive my grumpy-pants and see that I’m typically good-spirited. I’m making an effort to get to know people beyond that first, possibly inaccurate impression.
Be patient. I’m super lucky and have an incredible group of friends in Portland and elsewhere. They are my people. They know me well and love me anyway. But aside from a few people with whom I bonded shortly before I left for Remote Year (you know who you are!), I’ve cultivated my friendships for years. While it may seem like a lot of people here are already best friends with one another after two weeks—I have to remember that I don’t typically work that way, and that’s OK. I always say that I don’t like to rush things in life, and that includes friendship.
Take time away. Sometimes it seems like everyone here is more extroverted than I am, but when I talk to people individually, I realize that I’m not the only one who needs and enjoys alone time. If I don’t take the time I need to decompress, the grumpy-pants will quickly find me again. So, even when there are lots of potentially fun group activities happening around me (and there always are), I owe it to myself to disconnect from the group and enjoy some Nancy time, minus the popcorn (oh, how I miss the combination of reality television and delicious buttery popcorn!).
Be a leader, at least occasionally. 75 people is a lot. We don’t always like to do the same activities, and that’s not a bad thing. So far, some of the best experiences I’ve had are when I’ve taken the time to come up with an idea and invited a small group to come along (a walk to see a landmark, dinner at a tapas place). This way, I get to know people in smaller groups and we all get to see/do things that aren’t already on the schedule.
Listen and learn. Each person here knows something worth knowing and has a story to tell. When I ask questions and really listen to the answers, I can learn so much. People have opened up to me about lots of topics including breakups, family issues, racism and feelings of not fitting in. I like to think I’m a pretty good listener, but I think there’s always room for improvement. If I’m not being a good listener, please call me out (in a nice way, please).
I'm sure I'll have a LOT more to say about group travel as the year continues. Ciao for now.