Tag Archives: Oklahoma

Talking to Strangers

Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak with me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you? – Walt Whitman

My husband has always said that I can talk to a wall. He loves bringing me with him to parties because he knows I can small talk. However, my skill is also a frequent topic of jest as I do not limit it to parties. I find random people to talk to at grocery stores, airports, the line at the DMV, etc. Part of my problem is that I’m naturally nosy. I often listen in to other people’s’ conversations and jump in if I have something to say. For example, when I was standing in line to board the plane a few weeks ago, the guy in front of me asked another passenger for advice on what to do in San Diego. I couldn’t resist chiming in. (Plus, all the other guy said was to go to Sea World…REALLY?)

Fortunately my nosiness frequently gets me into some pretty interesting conversation. Like on Friday, I overheard the accent of another passenger on the train. She was visiting from Adelaide, Australia and we got into a great conversation about studying abroad. She was actually in the States visiting a friend who had studied abroad at her school. We talked about her impression of the States and how she loved San Diego but was overwhelmed by New York . We talked about how travel changes once you have friends in the location you are going to visit. She was absolutely lovely and I can’t tell you how glad I was that I talk to strangers.

When we are traveling abroad or being global from home, I think talking to strangers is something we have to push ourselves to do. It’s the way we learn. I think back to all the times I refused to ask a stranger a question and I’m immediately filled with regret. It reminds me of when I was in Switzerland and would not ask anyone how to purchase a tram ticket. Instead I spent the whole trip on foot because I was too scared to ask for help. There was also the time I went to the Asian market and quickly dashed through the store rather than stop and ask questions at the different counters and really learn how the market is set up. When I’m too scared to ask, I think I miss out on so much.

With our move coming up this Friday, I think this is a good reminder. In order for me to learn the lay of the land, get involved, and make friends, I need to throw the time-old advice of not talking to strangers out the window. I just hope I meet some good people along the way.

Graphic courtesy of whoischick.com

Varieties of Goodbye

Yesterday I emailed my students to say goodbye. In two weeks it will be my last day in the Study Abroad Office and then Hubby and I will move from the beautiful coastlines of San Diego to the plains of Oklahoma City for him to start an awesome new job.  I am so proud and we’re both excited, but with every move comes the challenges of goodbyes.

I’m moving from this (literally the view from my campus)

To this  (courtesy of Brit Gal Photography)

Personally, I have never been all that great at goodbyes. As a child I would cry every time a friend went home after a play date or sleepover. On the day my grandma was supposed to go back to Illinois after visiting us, I would hide her house slippers because I figured she couldn’t leave without them.  I just don’t particularly like when people have to  leave.  And I’m not much better when I’m the one doing the leaving either.

For those of us who have traveled, I’m sure we have all faced challenging goodbyes. I am most familiar with the travels that last a semester to a year where we have to say goodbye to family, friends, colleagues, Sundays school classes, book clubs, running groups, etc.  They can be emotional goodbyes because often they are a lifetime of relationships, but usually you know that you’ll be back which provides a great deal of comfort.

When we leave our host country to go back home, the goodbyes are often different.  We have to say farewell to host families, tour guides, bus drivers, professors, roommates, classmates, and travel-mates. Though we may have only known these individuals for a few months, the goodbyes are often more difficult.  So much has been shared.  So much has been experienced.  And usually we can only leave with the hope that someday we will have enough time, money, and vacation days to come back.

For me right now, I would say this particular goodbye feels somewhere in the middle. We have only lived in San Diego for a year but in that short time, I have made fast friends and gotten very attached to my students. However, the experiences have not been as intense as they were when I studied abroad. There was never any rush to see and do everything here in San Diego, because it wasn’t always known that we were going to leave so quickly. And though this isn’t home, as I begin to say my goodbyes, it feels more like a “see you later” rather than “I hope someday our paths will cross again.” At least I hope that truly is the case.

There are so many types of goodbyes. The quick farewell to colleagues as you run off to your evening gym class. Kissing your husband goodbye as you drop him off at the airport for a conference.  Saying goodbye to a friend as she heads off for a job in Amsterdam. The permanent farewell of a loved one after she takes her last breath. While each goodbye may seem to vary in distance and finality, each is important. I think the act of saying goodbye, while it may be difficult, shows that they matter to me. So though it is one of my least favorite activities and I’m not very good at it, I have to say goodbye.

To Ali, Andra, Karen, and Rose, I cannot express enough gratitude for how you have each embraced and accepted me. There is a bed for you in Oklahoma if you ever want escape from paradise for a while. I will really miss you but will see you later.

Kissing San Diego goodbye and Oklahoma hello

As for you, my dear readers, I’m not going anywhere. My 30 mile radius is just moving about 1353 miles east.