Have you ever found yourself alone and clueless in a foreign country?
This has happened to me twice, both times as an exchange student. It’s pretty intimidating to be surrounded by words you don’t understand, customs you don’t know, and people who couldn’t care less that you are floundering.
And then you meet a friend. Someone who takes the time to translate a word, point you in the right direction, maybe even show you around.
When I was a foreign exchange student in Vienna, Austria, several people reached out to me to help me along. I will never forget them. When you’re in a vulnerable situation like that and far from home, any kindness is amplified.
If this ever happens to you, you will always be on the lookout for a way to return the favor.
One day years ago I was home from college for the holidays and just happened to answer my parents’ phone. The caller was a teenage girl in distress, speaking English with a heavy German accent. She had been given our phone number by a family friend who had told her, “if you ever need anything while you’re in Texas, just call these people.” She needed help. She called.
Twenty years later, we are still friends. We’ve kept up through graduations, first boyfriends, first jobs. And now I am delighted to be getting on a plane to go see her get married this weekend! I am off to Hamburg, Germany, for a weekend of sightseeing and catching up with dear friends.
I am frantically trying to brush up on my rusty German. I’ve re-discovered the vocabulary I once knew (“Could I have a beer, please?”) but I’ve had to learn some new phrases, such as “I’m married” and “I have two children.” It appears the friendship has outlasted my language skills! But I am excited to go. I will try to post pictures here if I have a chance to use a computer at the hotel.
And so I’m wishing my dear friend Julia Herzlichen Glückwunsch! (I had to look it up) on her wedding day.
Have you ever been a stranger in a strange land? Anyone who leaves a comment will be entered to win a signed copy of my latest book TWISTED. Have a great weekend! I will be busy drinking a beer at a German pub!