Street Smart


No Longer Hitting the Books

Man I was never street smart as a kid. Sure I knew to avoid dark alleys and I have a natural aversion to strangers. But if you asked me how to use public transportation I wouldn't have known how to respond. And now I don't even know if I would consider myself book smart anymore. It's like I emptied my head of information and added new stuff that I didn't even know existed. 

I've never been good with big cities. They scared me. Or at least the American ones did. I never imagined going into San Francisco by myself. I wouldn't have known any way to get around. I don't think I even used a map (other than at Disneyland) until I was twenty and visiting Washington, D.C. with my grandma three years ago. Now I can look at a map, memorize the route, and get me to where I want in all the countries that I visited. I guess it helps that I'm a visual learner.

And not only have I learned how to use maps, I learned how to use public transportation, which I thought I would never do. In every country I've been to, I've learned how to use the subway systems, the buses, and the trams. I've learned that some countries don't check tickets and some do. That you have to press a button otherwise the bus or tram won't stop at your stop. That there are zones for how far you want to go. I remember that with my first experience on BART I gave my friends money and asked them to buy me my tickets because I had no clue what to do. And thank goodness I went with my mom a year earlier to France where I learned how to ride the metro, which I used as a starting ground my public transportation education. Now the thought of being underground doesn't give me a panic attack and it is my preferred method of public transportation.

Wale Cathedral, Krakow 
I've always been afraid of strangers, so accidentally bumping into drug dealers on the street wasn't something that I had to learn to lookout for. I did learn that those shoes dangling from wires means that you can buy drugs there (and here I thought people were just being mean!) But instead of crossing streets or freaking out anytime someone asks for money or tries to sell me something, I smile politely and say no, sorry. I've made myself stop and think rather than judge. That instead of someone being a freak or lazy, that maybe they've had a hard life, that they've been delt a different hand than I have. And that's where I've learned to check my privilege. Now I've learned the difference between the drug addicts, the homeless, and the retired people that are just not getting enough to live off of.

Ok so maybe I still don't know how to do my taxes. And I know that I'm still a very naive girl that hasn't experienced much in the world. But at least I'm not longer afraid to leave my country, let alone my state. I know that I can move to another country and survive. That I can find a way to live on my own without help from others (though insiders and guidance is always appreciated). And now I'm understanding how some things in the world works, and I'm happy to say that I'm know longer just book smart. I'm street smart too! 

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