Anticipation

September.

Yes, I think some visceral awareness of the calendar changing over to fall still lingers in me, triggering a kind of atavistic reaction born of decades (centuries?) of educational clockwork.

I vividly recall the first August I spent completely outside of the school system, neither student nor teacher for the first time. I couldn’t sleep, had trouble concentrating, and was snappish and stressed… for absolutely no reason. My mother was the one to finally solve the problem, pointing out that I had been anticipating the start of the school year for the overwhelming majority of my life at that point.

For a few precious years I was able to lose most of that embarrassingly painful reaction, blissfully unconcerned, only noticing the season change by falling leaves and early evening chill.

But now, it comes again.

I’m not heading back to school full time, or taking up teaching again. Instead, I’m heading off to Europe on a multi-week journey that will land me on a total of 5 flights and 3 major cities (not including layovers and day trips) and only one country in which I’ll be able to converse somewhat fluently.

Berlin. Madrid. Paris. I’m coming for you!

The first two cities are specifically work-related, which makes them doubly exciting. Our EU HQ is in Berlin, and I’ll be visiting very briefly to train my sales counterparts in the finer points of selling to the jewelry industry.

That will be followed by a tradeshow adventure in Madrid — my first international show! — to train a Spanish reseller on… the finer points of selling to the jewelry industry.

The remaining portion of my time abroad is to be spent avec mon mari, wining and dining and reveling in a city I have dreamed about living in visiting for my entire life.

To say that this is an incredible opportunity would be an understatement, but that doesn’t remove the tiny bit of anticipation I’m feeling as I make my packing lists and take care of all the pre-travel details. It’s the old butterflies-in-the-stomach, fingers crossed I picked a cute outfit, ohmygodwhereismypencilcase feeling rearing its obnoxious head.

I can safely say that facing down this beast as a confident and capable adult is making it much easier. But I’m open to any advice my more experienced readers might care to offer, and I don’t just mean the reminder to buy and pack a converter that works in all 3 countries (check!). How did you manage your first solo travels abroad, and what did you do to make a great first impression? What should I bring with me or leave at home? Did you survive on a single carry-on and laptop bag, as I intend to do?

Feature photo courtesy of mon père, who will certainly remind me to take my own version when I get there!

4 thoughts on “Anticipation

  1. Michelle McIntosh

    Have an amazing and safe trip! Stay hydrated. And my biggest trip is to make sure you document what you take pictures of. I regret not doing that when I travelled in Russia. I have lots of pictures but for many of them I do not remember which is from where!

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    1. Thank you for the tips! I usually keep a travel journal, so at least I can remember where I went and what I did each day. Hydration will be key, especially with all those flights!

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  2. OMG, HAVE YOU LEFT ALREADY? If not … I will share my European travels for business experiences first: Europeans tend to be more formal about business, they smile less, but they are very very happy to have you there, I learned. They truly dig American enthusiasm and knowledge. And they are anxious for insights on how jewelers think — their trade magazines, so I’ve been told, don’t cover retail nearly as much as ours. They also love to hear about trends in the U.S. Finally, they demand respect, and they detest ugly Americans (not that you would ever come across that way). Most Europeans, because they are quieter, will be impressed with your quiet demeanor, and your great listening abilities – not a characteristic, they tell me, that they see very often from Americans. They want to be treated as equals in the world of commerce, despite how gigantic our market is. That’s the bottom line.
    On PARIS: Squealing for you! If you are a fan of the #lostgeneration and have not read “A Moveable Feast” by Hemingway — it’s worth the read — or the reread if you have. There’s a new edition out that includes parts he wrote that didn’t make it into the first edition. Nothing will make you love Paris more. I’m so excited for you. Post a lot — I’ll be living vicariously through you!

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    1. I leave this weekend! Thank you for the insight. I intend to maintain my New England Yankee facade of cool, aloof, and polite. I’m anticipating learning a whole lot about the European market, which is very exciting, though I hope to be a good resource for anyone who asks about the US.

      Also, you’re a mind reader — there is nothing not to love about the Lost Generation and the delicious writing of Hemingway, though now I need to hunt down that new addition (I also re-read Julia Child’s “My Life in France” since I mentioned delicious…).

      I will post as I go, as much as I can!

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