5 Bad Habits I Picked Up Abroad (and 5 Good Ones Too)

And no it actually has nothing to do with bread since I’m allergic

…I’m not proud of these, but I’m putting them out there for anyone heading overseas to put on their radar– make good choices!


1. Haggling. So, In America, you don’t do that…which is something I learned the hard way. Apparently, it’s offensive if you ask to do “all of this for 20,” which is the opposite of so many countries overseas where it can be rude if you don’t try to bargain down from the absurd tag price. I caught myself doing it on my home turf at flea markets and then at a thrift shop where I didn’t realize that all of the proceeds go to the food bank. That was my wake up. I have since stopped. But I miss it, in Amsterdam I had a man just give me a 10 euro tin because I wanted it so badly, even after saying take it for 2 euros.  Sigh.

2. Eating late. Ughhhhh I HATED eating dinner at 9:30…10:30…11:30! It happens sometimes in New York but I hated it there too, in Seattle we eat at 7 at the latest because most people eat lunch at noon and waiting 9 hours in between meals is weird and because going to sleep on a full stomach is wrong and promotes weight gain over time. Typically you should stop eating 3 hours before you go to bed so your body can go into “starvation mode” and keep your metabolism functioning. Some nights I would just lay in bed regretting the decision to dine with the Parisians instead of my normal routine of making a big salad at 6:30 and being done with it. Salad, nuts, meats, sauces, (not to mention cheese courses, dessert, and wine because *yolo*) just stirring in some cosmic discotheque in my stomach. I just wasn’t raised that way, but I got sort of used to it. Okay not really.

3. Not wearing a helmet or a seatbelt. I’m not proud of this one. It’s like the chicken or the egg, which came first? I want to blame the helmets but I think I might have been warmed up from the lack of seatbelt wearing in taxis in Manhattan. I’m not reckless on a bike though and besides, was I supposed to drag a helmet around Paris for when I decided last minute I was going to hop on a Velib for 5 blocks because I was late? Only if it was sparkly. But the bottom line in my justified denial is that the Parisians didn’t do it..and when in Rome….

4. Drinking bad coffee. Sorry, I didn’t go to Italy so yes I’m standing by my statement that Euro-cafe tastes like acidic gutter water. Especially in Turkey, *shudder,* straight up mud.

5. Smoking. After 4 years of smoking during my later teenage years, I quit. But goddamit Europe I hit the tar sticks a little when I was dancing until the wee hours of the morning during one of the handful of  times that actually happened..kidding, I wasn’t that hermetic but  I’d often get pressured into lighting up simply at a thursday tea date with my roommate. NEVER AGAIN.






5 GOOD habits I picked up in Europe

1. Cleaning more often. Did you know that French women clean the toilet every time they go to the bathroom? We aren’t raised that way in the states, it’s more week-to-week basis or when we’re scheduled to by our mom or roommate.  Also, my crumb alert was on high. Euro-moms do NOT like crumbies.

2. Asking people where to  go. I didn’t have internet on my phone and when I backpacked I didn’t have a phone at all. SO instead of using craptastic apps like Yelp to know where to eat, I talked to the locals. It enhanced my travels, my linguistic abilities, and the food I ate. Not to mention all the portraits I took of people I met along the way.

3. Recycling. They are SO anal in France about recycling into the proper receptacles, at home. On the street, well really they just throw their trash in the street but they don’t have recycling in public like us swanky Yanks.

4.  Going to museums. Probably due to my internal pressure to see every museum becuase…that’s what you do in Paris when you have time to kill or just don’t know what to do for a group activity with classmates you don’t really know? And Europe in general? I probably went to 100 museums. Well maybe not, but maybe….

5. Taking photos of objects instead of buying them. Because if I bought everything that interseted me I’d have brought home a Santa bag full of silverware, lamps, rose wine, and live rabbits. I stuck to postcards, vintage stamps, and clothes to keep it simple…and flat.


Bottle line: when abroad, watch others, yourself, keep and open-mind, and keep it real.


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