I received a questionaire the other day asking me the question, what are the biggest challenges facing a foreigner coming to a new country. I started to think, well, there is the language problem that everyone has when coming to a strange place. Language, most of the time sounds like gibberish and you walk the streets totally oblivious to everything because nothing really makes much sense. Then there is the culture issue. Americans, as I am one and can only speak about my upbringing have a tendency to want to push our cultural fears upon unwitting natives just trying to live a normal life.
We Americans think we are the end all to everything and have a hard time mixing in with everyone else. I see this with cultures that have aggressive natures. I don't need to name anyone we all know who they are, long live the queen! But I started to muse about these issues and realized that these are just things that can be overcome and adapted to. It's up to the individual as to what kind of experience they want to have as a traveler in strange and distant lands. The biggest challenge anyone has when traveling is dealing with themselves. We think we leave all our fears and troubles behind when we hit the road but a moving van of our crap is always just behind us ready to stop and unload it's shit on anyone or anything we feel like. Actually it becomes magnified the longer we stay in another country. It doesn't go away. Sticks to us like glue.
What to do about it? The secret to living in another country? Shoot to living anywhere is, Let it all go. Whatever we carry with us, if we want to survive living in another world we must let all of it go because if we don't our worst fears will drive us to seclusion and loneliness. I don't think this idea is new or very profound it's just more magnified when you are traveling. Which brings me to another point I need to make.
A friend of mine just recently lost a very close and dear friend of hers to cancer today. She was in her thirties and it's a tragic loss. She worked for me one night at an event. She was my assistant and she was fantastic. She was engaging and kind, was always ready to help with a smile. She went on to work with my friend shooting weddings and portraits. She learned by doing and watching and asking questions. She was a kind soul with boundless curiosity. She leaves 3 kids and a loving husband.
I think the world today lost an old soul. I am sad. I didn't spend much time with her but I will miss her presence on this planet. Sometimes it's a short ride to the finish line ... make the most of it. Don't make your fears the focus of who you are. Let the wonder of the unknown guide you.