Thinking back to the origin of my blog…international inspiration in your everyday life…I can’t help but reflect on the number of international experiences I have had while living in Greenville. So many, that I have been wrapped up in “living” them recently and spending less time “reflecting” upon them.
Recently at work, someone described me as an “experience collector,” which I think is a perfect way to describe how I have lived each day for the experiences presented to me. I wanted to pass along a few tips I have learned along the way that have helped me live like a traveler every day and be inspirNational.
- Participate in an organization that promotes diversity and inclusion. In Greenville, that has been Upstate International for me. I have had the opportunity to take language classes…I learned a taste of 6 languages (Hebrew, Swahili, Russian, Italian, Japanese, and African French) in 2 hours last month! Each of the teachers came from the locations where the language was spoken, so I was able to get an introduction to not only the language, but the culture. Through the organization I have also attended international film showings, art festivals, and dance performances embracing the diversity of Greenville. Almost every major city has organizations that promote diversity and inclusion, and they are a great way for us to experience the life of a traveler even if we are staying home!
- Choose to live in a community with a global presence. That often means the heart of your community (downtown!). Living in Downtown Greenville, I am surrounded by people who work for global companies, such as Michelin, BMW, Fluor, and GE. At any given event with my neighbors, I often hear 3-4 languages exchanged. As a person who is passionate about language and culture, it was been a great learning experience for me to not only practice the languages I have studied, but to learn about other languages and cultures! Through new friends, I have developed an interest in learning more about Asia. Surrounding ourselves by people who are different from us helps spark that interest and grows that travel bug within us.
- Practice empathy. Learn about your surroundings and become fully immersed! I have done my best to attend community events and to spend time with new friends who teach me about their unique interests and backgrounds. And one of the most exciting ways I have practiced empathy is by learning design thinking through the Stanford d.School and implementing the tools in my work as part of Michelin’s Customer Innovation Lab. I have spent time out in the field, getting to know people throughout the country to understand and learn their needs and try to meet them with Michelin’s services and solutions. For me, the most exhilarating part of travel is connecting with people from around the world, and practicing empathy is one the best ways to do just that.
As you are making plans for the spring and summer, I hope these tips help you be inspirNational, whether you are traveling or at home! Also, to stay up to date on the “real time” inspirNational happenings in my life, follow me on Instagram @inspirnationallife!
Ahhh…with over a month of travel almost every weekend, it feels wonderful to sit back and relax with a pen in hand (or should I say keys at my fingertips nowadays with modern technology), a glass of Perrier water next to me in my little salon in Paris, and free time to reflect on my adventures.
Before diving into my travels, I wanted to share an exciting observation I have had. Recently I counted my trips and realized that over the past 25 years, I have now visited 28 countries! I have spanned 3 continents and look forward to adding Asia to my list after one of my best friend’s weddings in Sri Lanka this summer. Below is my ever-growing list:
- United States
- From west to east, 27 states and 1 territory: Hawaii, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Texas, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pensylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico
- Windsor and Niagara Falls
Central America/Caribbean Islands:
- Costa Rica
- Cayman Islands
- St. Lucia
- St. Maarten
- St. Thomas
- Czech Republic
- Vatican City
I feel very grateful and proud, especially because I can now speak the native language of many of the countries (English, Spanish, and French). I am excited to contribute all that I have learned (languages, culture, history, cuisine, art, and more) particularly since my current study abroad program in Paris, throughout my career and my personal life. Thinking about all of these visits makes the travel bug in me grow stronger and encourages me to achieve my lifelong pursuit to visit every continent. I will continue to reflect on developing an inspirNational mindset, capturing ideas from each of these countries. If you have specific questions or curiosities about any of the countries, feel free to let me know and I will respond with my insights! Also, check out my friend Lisa’s inspiring story, Can You Travel to 25 Countries by Age 25?, to learn how you can start setting travel goals throughout your life!
I have had a lot of people ask me lately, what is it like to learn a new language? For the past three weeks, I have embarked on the journey of learning French. The last time I learned a language “from scratch” was in seventh grade Spanish class. To be honest, I was a little nervous about whether I was still capable of learning a new language. I have always heard that it is easier for children to learn languages, and it becomes more challenging as we grow older. Regardless, I decided that I have always wanted to study the French language and culture, so I decided to challenge myself in my international MBA program.
What have I learned from studying a new language?
I’ve described to my loved ones that I feel like a baby. I am absorbing every word I hear and every sentence I read. I smile when I recognize French words that people say or write. Just like a baby, I’m starting to “coo,” or say a few words and phrases here and there. Soon I am confident I will be able to say full expressions. The advantage of being an adult, though, is that I can learn to write quickly. I have been able to memorize vocabulary and grammar in order to write brief letters and blog posts. I am looking forward to the day that I can speak with correct grammar and vocabulary without having to write!
I am also reminded the importance of patience in my studies. Learning a language requires repetition and there is no getting around the time required to study. Every homework assignment helps with comprehension and every test ensure that I am continuing to develop my language skills.
The most interesting aspect is that learning a language teaches us culture simultaneously. As a travel bug and culture enthusiast, it has been very interesting to learn about French culture while studying the French language. One-quarter of my heritage is French, so I have enjoyed being able to understand why some of my family traditions occur as they do. For example, I learned that Christmas Eve is the most significant time for the French to celebrate Christmas, which explains why my French family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve (rather than Christmas Day). The deeper cultural understanding help us be more accepting of and interested in the diversity in our world.
Overall, my French language studies have been a positive experience so far. I am relieved to know that I am capable of learning a new language again and excelling in class! I look forward to applying my new language and cultural knowledge when I study in Paris next winter.
For all inspirNational readers – don’t be intimidated by learning a new language. It is one of the most rewarding experiences that our lifelong education can provide us!