1) I'm American. I might have spent 18 months out of the last two years abroad, but I'm still American in more ways than my passport. I found myself explaining baseball, the American Pastime, to 10-year-old Icelanders. (They didn't know what it was! I had no idea it was a chiefly American sport!) I hate that dishwashers seem to be a strictly American phenomenon. I like peanut butter. I still use a "z" in the places that Brits use an "s" and I say "zee" not "zed." I also realize (note the "z") that my country has a very loud presence globally. The American entertainment industries are everywhere, it seems that all of Europe mostly watches American films and listens to American music. I remember on one of my first trips abroad (Costa Rica) being shocked by how many American products were at the grocery store. Virtually the whole world knows about American politics and culture and everyone has an opinion on Americans and America regardless of whether or not they've been there or have met many of us. In nearly all instances when I travel to a new country, they will know more about my culture than I will know about their own. I also understand that our reputation, whether positive or negative, precedes us and it is my responsibility to represent my country in the best way possible as I travel.
2) People always think that I'm French! This first happened to me when a few British girls thought that I was French while in Paris. I was amused, but didn't think much of it. In the three years since, it has happened time and time again in country after country! As far as I know, I have no French ancestry (that would be British, German, Czechoslovakian and Yugoslavian - yes, the latter two aren't even countries anymore) so why do people always think I'm French? People always say, "Because of your hair!" Okay, so are there lots of French girls out there with curly hair? After French, people often mistake me for English or Icelandic (generally if I'm in England or Iceland) followed by Czech or Scottish. All four of those nationalities seem more plausible to me. But, French, alright, I'll take it.
3) I pick up habits, phrases, and terminology quite easily and often find myself slipping back and forth between American and British English, depending on where I am. I've gone back and forth between London and Reykjavik a few times this spring and I find mind myself wanting to do all sorts of silly things like expecting to press a button on the tube to signal my stop (nope, that's for the buses in Reykjavik!), wanting to "tap out" with my Oyster card when on the buses in Reykjavik (nope, that's the tube in London!), and occasionally doing something stupid like googling a location in Reykjavik followed by "tube stop" or going to the Straeto app instead of City Mapper when routing a journey in London.
4) I thrive on sleep-deprivation. Well, maybe not thrive, but can at least deal with it. I take the cheapest flights, which often means obnoxiously early in the morning. I stay up too late exploring. I can barely sleep on night buses and never on planes. I once spent the night homeless on the streets of Amsterdam. I will willingly sacrifice sleep for travel.
5) I am a hostel person! I often sleep better in a hostel room full of strangers than I do in my own room. Plus, once I get so used to having all these other people in the room, it is like reverse-culture shock to go back to normal!
6) I am such a nerd, but I like it that way. I occasionally go on rants at social gatherings about the necessity of the Oxford comma. I spent six hours in the Roman Forum. I'll read every single label in a museum and spend hours in a bookstore. I'm constantly looking up the history behind things I find interesting.
7) I'm totally fine going solo. There are so many benefits to travelling alone. If, as I stated above, I want to spend six hours in the Roman Forum, I don't need to worry about boring anyone. Without having to compromise with someone else, I can focus on doing and seeing what is most important to me, making the most out of each trip.
8) Travelling solo doesn't mean that I'm always alone. In fact, it's far easier for me to make friends than I ever imagined. Some of my favourite parts of travelling are meeting different people and learning their stories about how and why they are travelling. Travelling seems to speed up the friendship process and when I make a travel friend, it usually seems like we've been friends for years rather than a few days - or hours!
9) I'm relatively low-maintance. I know people who have to travel with an entire bag full of varieties of lotions, make-up, and assorted beauty products. I've just accepted that my hair will do whatever it pleases when I travel!
10) No matter how much I hate the idea of small spaces without a way out, I will always force myself to go in claustrophobia-inducing places, like the tunnels underground in Edinburgh, the Blue Grotto in Italy, or the 3,000 year old Hittite Underground city in Turkey. And I'm always glad I did them.
11) Whether psychological, genetic, or what not, I really do feel a connection to places where my ancestors dwelt. I absolutely loved the Scottish Highlands and later did some research to discover that a portion of ancestors moved to Scotland from London before somewhere on the family line emigrating to America.
12) I enjoy the process of travel, am attracted to the struggle, and oftentimes find the journey just as memorable as the destination. There is a certain adventure that comes with taking German night buses between Prague and Budapest or a night bus two nights in a row in Turkey. If there is one thing that travelling on a budget affords, it is adventure!
13) I am completely in love with the world. I haven't travelled anywhere and thought, "Well, this is a horrid, awful place." Rather, I have fallen in love with a variety of countries and cities and all their respective differences in culture and geography.
14) The more I travel, the more I want to travel! I've heard it time and time again and I'm no exception. Once you've been bitten by the travel bug, it is impossible to get rid of it. For each place I visit, I add three more to the list. It's addictive, a lot of fun, and each trip is an amazing experience. I don't see myself ever living a completely stationary lifestyle.
Hi, I’m Crystal! Just like you, I love to travel. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 24 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Travels, Crystal
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