By Santhny Subramaniam
A couple of months ago, I booked my flights to attend a conference in Valencia, Spain. I decided to fly into Berlin and out of Portugal to make the most out of my 20+ hours flight time! I started wondering how I was going to make it a good trip, given I was going to be by myself in certain places/country that I’ve never visited before. Then, I realised I am a member of Rotaract, which has their presence in almost all countries! I started contacting Rotaract clubs and Rotaractors - and thank god I did because they made my trip beyond incredible! Here’s why:
1 - Local tips!
Personally, when travelling, I like to get to know the city better from a local perspective, ie. what’s been recently happening, what are some of the issues people are currently experiencing? And yes, touristy spots are cool, but I also want to explore the city like a local. And what more could be better than having a Rotaractor to show you around his/her city?! I only had a day to spare in Berlin, but thanks to Gregory, I had such a good time exploring Berlin and checking out some of the cool neighbourhoods and cafes I wouldn’t have known otherwise.
2 - S.O.S
A friend in need is a friend indeed! On my first day in Barcelona, I got pickpocketed and was feeling so vulnerable and, of course, had financial issues. I was extremely grateful to have met Oriol for dinner on the day of the incident, who definitely cheered me up and even bought me dinner, understanding my financial hardships - how kind of him! He even offered to help speak to the police officers in case no one knew Spanish in the police station. Honestly, without Oriol and two other friends of mine in Barcelona, I would have had no clue how to get through it all.
3 - Be inspired!
Rotaractors are doing amazing things everywhere! Meeting another Rotaractor from across the globe brings you a new perspective and ideas on how we could achieve more with Rotaract. I was lucky to have met Salva in Valencia who was such a great inspiration! Currently serving as the president of Rotaract Mediterranean, Salva is working towards bridging the cultural gap between Europe and Middle Eastern, promoting peace and harmony. Isn’t that amazing?!
4 - Together, we are better
Meeting Rotaractors from other places around the world also brings opportunities for collaboration! I remember meeting Margarida and Francisco for a quick breakfast in Lisbon and we were so excited to hear about each other’s projects and events. So much so, we decided to update each other on our club’s growth and development and they were so excited to promote our upcoming projects as examples to Interact and Rotaract clubs in their district.
5 - Lifelong friendships
Last but not least, let’s not forget all the new friends you make along the way and the memories to be cherished forever. Those friendships are a valuable gift and by having friends from different cultures, you get to gather a wealth of knowledge! Thanks to the girls in Porto (Bárbara and Teresa), who introduced me to some good novels by the Portuguese author, Fernando Pessoa and one of the world’s best sandwiches originally from Porto, Francesinha!
So the next time you’re travelling somewhere, maybe it’s not too bad of an idea to message a local Rotaract club - you’re bound to make some memorable discoveries and friendships!