A cautionary tale of peanut butter and toaster pastries

Admit it. It’s fun to meet someone or join a group who shares your interests. Think fan clubs, special-interest organizations, Comic Con. Or it could be as simple as getting to know someone and discovering you both enjoy kayaking on Pennsylvania’s lakes, you love the same authors (David Sedaris and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, anyone?), or you attended the same Bon Jovi concert last summer. Maslow will tell you we need to feel a sense of belonging.

Perhaps it was this drive that led me to join a Facebook group that’s comprised of Americans living in Ireland. The members and I have that in common, so I thought it might be fun. I wish it were.

I had to leave the group after a couple of months. It seems most of the posts were whiny complaints about everything that’s different in Ireland. Here are some examples:

“Can anyone find Skippy peanut butter here? If so, please post the location and pictures. I hate that I can’t find what I want.”

“Why do they call this rocket? Aren’t these just field greens or arugula or something?”

“Seeking Pop Tarts. If anyone sees them, please post immediately. How can the Irish NOT have Pop Tarts?”

Really? You get to live in Europe, and this is your reaction? You’re upset that you can’t find Pop Tarts?

My opinion is this: If you want everything to be the same and you don’t want to experience anything different, stay home! Part of the joy of traveling is discovering new things. Wouldn’t you be disappointed to fly 3,500 miles to discover that everything is the same as it was at home?

World travel helps you not only discover the differences but also appreciate them. When our family travels, we practice another language, learn a little bit about the local history of the places we visit, and we try local foods. We’ve had escargots in France, waffles in Belgium, fondue in Switzerland, and lamb stew in Ireland. We may not find a new favorite food, but on the other hand, we may! The fun is in the exploration of another culture.

My advice is this: experience as many new things as you can, and open your mind. Vow to resist boring. Resist same-old. Resist complaining when you can’t find a specific brand of peanut butter. In my view, going somewhere new and wanting everything to be exactly the same as it is at your houseĀ … is just nuts.


Tricia Richards Thumbnail-Head Shot

Tricia Richards-Service is an adjunct faculty member of the Communication Arts Department at Marywood University and a doctoral candidate in health promotion. A 2017-2018 Fulbright-Schuman student research grantee, she is now in Europe, where she is conducting research on breast cancer in Ireland and Romania.

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