Tag: traveling abroad

Interracial dating when overseas is ONE thing—but how different is it for sisters in the States?

One of the coolest things about engaging in the blogosphere is the chance to trade thoughts, ideas and experiences with fellow black female bloggers, those of us for whom international travel isn’t a luxury, but a mindset and a lifestyle. Since I launched UrbanTravelGirl back in December 2008 from my rented flat in the south of France, I’ve loved perusing other sisters’ blogs, finding commonalities in our unique, yet shared, overseas adventures.

We blog about keeping our hair hooked up in foreign countries; struggling to learn new languages; what it’s like “traveling while black” outside America. And of COURSE, we get into the “man thing.” Which leads to today’s thought.

I wrote recently about sisters “getting their swirl on” when traveling abroad, and have been fascinated by your thoughts (“merci beaucoup” for sharing!). One of my favorite and most thought-provoking fellow bloggers, American Black Chick in Europe (http://americanblackchickinlondon.blogspot.com/) recently wrote, “Why Am I in Europe?” (http://americanblackchickinlondon.blogspot.com/2010/04/why-am-i-in-europe.html), where she shared her reasons for studying and living on the continent (she first was in London, and now is in Toulouse, France). But some disgruntled reader, going off-topic and complaining about some of the “Hot Man Candy of the Week” photos she occasionally posts, said: “Yes, there are white guys in the USA. Would US black chick feel as free to lust after them or even date them in the USA? You will probably say yes, but we all know the racial dynamics of the USA….”

Continue 16 Comments April 22, 2010

Black women “getting their swirl on” when traveling abroad—are you one of them?

Just last week, I picked up a provocative new book: Don’t Bring Home a White Boy: And Other Notions That Keep Black Women from Dating Out (http://www.karynlanghorne.com/)(Gallery Books, $24.99) by Karyn Langhorne Folan. A sister who’s a Harvard Law School grad, former law professor and novelist, Folan plays off the unspoken admonition many of black women have received for generations. The author herself is married to a white American man, and in her book includes real-life anecdotes with black and white men and women as she explores the “notions” that keep interracial dating off the table for many sisters.

But what interested me most is her last chapter: “It’s the Same Story Around the World.” Here, she writes how “Traveling the world—and meeting men from other countries and cultures—can offer American black women a new view of themselves as desirable.” She shares the stories of sisters who’ve lived in Europe, who talk about the very different dynamics of interracial relationships on that continent and in the States.

Many mention feeling attractive, desired, and appreciated FOR their blackness, rather than in spite of it. Some talk about feeling “freer” to be themselves, both personally and in relationships, when they are abroad. And, as Black Women in Europe blog and social network founder Adrianne George reports: “I want black women to know that, in the wider world, we are perceived as smart, hardworking and talented. In short, the world thinks you’re awesome.”

Continue 72 Comments April 5, 2010

Tips for sisters on ‘hooking up’ their hair when traveling abroad, Part Deux

Late last month, I wrote about the “hair issues” we black women often face when traveling abroad—and promised to offer some tips about handling these when you’re overseas.

When I first traveled to Europe in the late 1990s, visiting a friend who worked on a U.S. Army base in Germany, I was doing the relaxed hair thing, toting multiple curling irons and assorted lotions and potions in my always-overstuffed suitcase. But once I started hitting the road with friends, all those curling irons became a royal pain. What a hassle to constantly be plugging in, moving irons from one room to the other, waiting for them to cool down before you could pack them, etc. And then there was always the issue of “what if it rains?”

Now that I’ve been wearing two-strand twist extensions for most of the past five years, that’s no longer a concern. BUT, I have gotten overseas and much to my dismay, realized that I forgot to pack my favorite olive oil sheen or softening lotion. This, my friends, can be a challenge—especially since overseas trips tend to last for more than just a weekend.

But if you find yourself in a city—especially in Europe—and have arrived sans products, I’ve discovered that black folks and Arabs (who frequently have similar hair textures as ours) often live near the city’s main train station….

Continue 53 Comments January 10, 2010

Traveling abroad through film often the next best thing to being there

I’m not usually a big moviegoer, but I am a sucker for a good foreign-language film. Yes, I’m a bit of a snob – I feel a bit smarter sitting and watching some artsy independent film rather than, say, “The Transformers” (not that there’s anything wrong with that if you liked it!). But since I don’t get overseas nearly as often as I’d like, I figure forking over $10 or $11 for a two-hour onscreen journey into another culture is a fair price to pay.

Knowing how passionate I am about overseas travel, friends and colleagues constantly quiz me: “So where’s your next foreign trip? I know you’re on your way somewhere.” For the first time in a long time, I’m staying put—mostly because I’m out of vacation time and am forcing myself to stick to a serious budget (for reasons I will share in this blog before too long, I hope). But that doesn’t mean I’m willing to give up globetrotting. Instead, I’m doing it right here in Chicago—no passport, visas or trips to O’Hare International Airport required—and am traveling by way of the big screen.

Just this week, I checked out “Paris,” a lovely, wonderfully written film starring Juliette Binoche that was shot—of course—in Paris, my absolute FAVORITE city in the entire world and the one place I’d happily live if told I could never go anywhere else for the rest of my life….

Continue 10 Comments October 15, 2009

Some sisters never more at home than when traveling abroad

Not that I didn’t already know this, but I’m always thrilled to hear about black women out there who, American or other passports in hand, eagerly take off for trips to places where we’re not always sure if there will be lots of other folks who look like “us “when we get there. But we go anyway, and often return home with fresh eyes.

Take American Black Chick in London. We met “virtually” through her fabulous blog of the same name, as she’s finishing up her M.A. dissertation in London this summer and looking for work that will extend her excellent European adventure. Not only do I love her fresh perspective on being a young African-American sister overseas, but admire her fearless spirit, especially when it comes to taking on the world on her own terms. American Black Chick just got back from a two-week jaunt to Italy, Switzerland and Liechtenstein and dished a bit about the trip….

Continue 6 Comments August 11, 2009

Black women traveling abroad: Learn a foreign country’s social mores, customs before you go

At the recent Travel Blog Exchange ’09 conference in Chicago, a fellow blogger and I found ourselves discussing why African-American women—even those with the financial means and interest in traveling abroad—don’t do it more often. I often think about this, as I always feel it would be GREAT to see more sisters when I’m running around Italy or Spain either in a group or solo.

For many of us, it’s fear of the unknown. We don’t speak the language; we don’t know anyone in the country we’d like to visit. But in countless conversations I’ve had with African-American women over the years, it comes down to wondering how we’ll be perceived as black people. Even without realizing it, being black in America—whether dirt-poor, comfortably affluent like “The Cosby Show” Huxtables, or “movin’ on up” like the Jeffersons—means wearing the subconscious burden of potential discrimination on our backs like the latest designer dress….

Continue 22 Comments August 9, 2009


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