Top 5 Essentials For Going Abroad
Hello! My name is Jannie Orange. I am a junior, international studies and Spanish double major, studying in Madrid, Spain for the Spring Semester of 2016. As you travel abroad, you must realize that you are far away from home. You are far from familiarity, availability, and being in the comfort of things that you know. Before you wander abroad, you must think about your journey, and what is necessary to have a successful travel experience. Being black and abroad is a beautiful thing. Make sure that you are prepared for everything that may come your way. Here are my top 5 essentials to bring on your journey abroad:
5. Hair Products
For every black woman, our hair is extremely important to us. Many places outside the United States don't provide a diverse offering of hair products that cater to curls and kinks that black women rock effortlessly. Snatch all the Shea Moisture that you can find, because here in Madrid, Spain, there aren't many selections for the beautiful black girls with natural curls. Any product you need to fluff, style, or sleek your hair down is a must as a black woman abroad
I am recently getting over a cold, and I was lost on which medicines to get from the pharmacy. Brands such as Tylenol, Zyrtec, and Excedrin are not always available in foreign countries, but I guarantee they have an off-brand equivalent. So make sure that you have your favorite brand of cough drops, cold & flu medicine, aspirin, and allergy products handy. This will make things a lot easier if you catch a cold, suffer headaches, or if those allergies are too much to handle while abroad.
3. A Good Book
Two of my goals during 2016 are to read more and listen more. A good book keeps the mind sharp and curiosity alive. One of the most important things about traveling is learning. In order to do this you really must have an open mind and intention to get to know your country and what it has to offer. Before I left, my father gave me a few books to take abroad. One of the books that I took a particular interest in is Living with Purpose: an Activist’s Guide to Listening. This book was written by Dorothy Height, civil rights activist, legendary leader, and an inspiration to the community, breaking barriers for black women. As a Black Beyond Borders Ambassador, I encourage the notion to travel with purpose. The book I chose is a helpful tool in my journey abroad in my personal goals, becoming a better listener, and in turn, widening my perspective.
Know about your country before you go there. Research the basics about the culture, customs, and any holiday or festivals. Be an online tourist, and read about all the flea markets, food markets, cool landmarks, bars/clubs, etc. Learn about the history, politics, and social issues of your country. Keep up with your own, as people that you meet will want to have conversation on social, political, and economic issues of your country and theirs. Know about your travel program, and their safety tips for that particular city. Make sure that you have a copy of basic emergency numbers (ex. 911). Keep copies of all your documents (visa, passport, identification, etc.) and your credit cards. (Important: Know the weather of your country before you visit! You don’t want to be unprepared in any way.)
Being a black and abroad is a beautiful thing. Be confident in yourself, knowing who you are, and what you want to achieve abroad. Allow yourself to be open and explore the many opportunities that your city offers. I encourage all my bold, beautiful, black women to be confident. To step out of your comfort zone requires willingness to dare to be different and have confidence with it. You have so much to learn on your journey abroad, but remember you have so much to teach as well. The people you meet with respond to your openness, will be drawn to your genuine interest in their culture, and will be attracted to your melanin. Teach them, and learn from them, for your blackness is something to be celebrated. That will make your experience abroad much more stimulating and rich in spirit. You will become more connected your own by embracing the differences between your culture and theirs. Be bold, be black, and be borderless.