As you know, I’m travelling for business in Germany and I’ve learned a lot about myself this past week. I thought I’d share part of my experience and my current thoughts. Of course, a lot of this travel has been extremely positive: meeting with colleagues face to face is invaluable, experiencing new things and seeing some great places and things are all lovely. But, there are some downsides to travelling.
Number One: I can feel extremely alone.
Tonight, for example, I ate dinner by myself in the hotel. Of course, I could have emailed someone from work to see if they wanted to grab dinner or walked around the area. But, I wanted to eat somewhere that I knew would speak English (I know, typical American), would take my credit card (much easier for expense reports) and could eat and run back to my room.
I am also travelling with my boss and there’s some kind of feeling of having to be “on” all the time. I feel like I have to have some sort of wall up because I need to always exude professionalism. Not only is it lonely having only one person to talk to pretty much all day, it’s exhausting having to analyze what I’m going to say before I say it….
Number Two: German is a hard language
Not speaking the language has been quite difficult. I studied abroad in college, but didn’t have as much trouble as I’ve had now. That may be because I studied in Italy and I took 2 semesters of Italian before I left, but German and the country is entirely different. The language is incredibly difficult. My colleagues speak both English and German (smart bastards) and sometimes I will be in a group and they are all speaking German and that’s it. Now, that’s annoying because they know I don’t speak German, yet continue to speak in German, but they are just going about their daily lives. I can’t even pick up on what they’re saying because I have ZERO IDEA what they are saying. At least with Spanish or Italian, I probably know a few words.
Number Three: I don’t feel like I accomplish anything
I’m in meetings or trainings all day, trying to read emails and dealing with a 6 hour time difference. When I get back from dinner I feel guilty if I don’t do an hour or two of work. I’m not sure why I feel guilty, but there’s something about having a bunch of ideas after being in training and then trying to execute those ideas. Maybe I should try speed like Jessie Spano?!
That was the most rambling post EVER! Do you find business travel lonely? Boring? Fun?
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