Comfort Zones

We all have our comfort zones.  You know, we do the things we’re comfortable doing because we’ve done it a lot or we don’t have to think about it very hard.  I have them, you have them, we all do.  It’s part of human nature.

I guess I must be getting older (and wiser?) because every now and then I leave my comfort zone on purpose.  I always get more out of the experience than I bargained for though not always in the way I expect.

Today, I embark on one of those radical departures from my comfort zone.  I am going to Nigeria to do Real Studio training for a company thinking about switching to Real Studio for their business needs.  This is a great opportunity for me to teach (something I like doing) about a product I spend a lot of time using.  Getting to travel when someone else is paying is even better.  I’ve managed to do this for London and Hong Kong in addition to many US and Canadian cities too numerous to mention.

This will be an interesting adventure.  I’ve never been to Africa and I’m going to a place that has a State Department travel warning.  Oh joy.  But, I believe (and hope) that my hosts are taking good care of me and handling security.  Since they seem to do this for their European bigwigs I don’t expect that to be a problem.  But I do have addresses and phone numbers for the US Embassy and other security ‘options’.  Never hurts to have a plan B.

The joys of international travel begins with the immunizations.  I joke that I’m now prepared for any sort of post apocalyptic disaster when the diseases hit.

Unlike my year long stay in Hong Kong 15 years ago where the internet was still kind of special, I fully expect I’ll be ‘online’ for a good portion of my stay.  It will be interesting to see how well all that works as I’ve been told to expect power outages and variable internet connectivity.

Speaking of the internet:  I like to joke with people that I’m going to Nigeria to go find that damn prince that keeps sending me all those emails!

By nature I’m an introvert and I am a little concerned that one of most populous cities in Africa will be overwhelming.  It wasn’t a big deal in Hong Kong so I don’t expect to be a problem here, but you just never know.  The other thing that could take some getting used to is being the clear and obvious minority.  In Hong Kong it wasn’t too bad because there were Brit’s everywhere and they were just part of the environment.  I don’t think I’ll be afforded the same luxury on this trip.

I work for myself so I don’t talk a lot.  I know that when I do my training videos and I spend 3 or 4 hours talking into a computer I have to be careful and drink extra water so the pipes don’t start to hurt.  I’ll be training for 8 hours a day for 5 days so it could be rough.  Add in that I can’t drink the tap water and it will be even more interesting.

Packing for an overseas trip is harder than a domestic trip.  If you go to Chicago and forget your deodorant you pop into your local Walmart (even gas station) and just pick some up.  I don’t know, does Nigeria even have Walmart or a local equivalent?

Anyway, I look forward to this adventure.  I’m sure it will generate many stories and laughter (at my expense probably) and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

I’m sure I’ll give an update once I’m back.  Happy coding!

13 thoughts on “Comfort Zones

  1. Having lived in various African countries for 30+ years, my advice is: expect the worst, but hope for the best. The probability is that you’ll be fine, but keep your eyes open at all times, and never leave anything valuable out of your sight.

  2. @Paul Rodman
    that is true for most countries. Americans will leave their purses, laptop bags, etc sitting on a table and not watch them in a crowded place. In most countries you stuff would be long gone before you even looked up.

    My advice to you Bob like it is to anyone traveling overseas. Keep an eye out for anyone acting strange. Keep you passport in a pocket where you money isnt. dont flash money, jewelry, credit cards, etc around. I just gave the same advice to my parents that are visiting the UK. Also if you can travel with others. Like walking from hotel to office to dinner to whatever. Numbers generally discourages people from doing something. Also photocopy your passport (at least the important pages) and place a copy in your computer bag. Once at the hotel, you can leave it in the safe (if you have one). That way you can take it to the local govnt if you get robbed and have a basis for an id. When you deal with the state dept on getting new id, that helps you prove that you are who you are.

    and my list of tips goes on and on. I have been traveling for over 40 years now, and have hit many countries. let me know if you have any other questions.

    I have never been to Nigeria and wish you the best. Take photos (with your phone if possible).

  3. You SO have to send me an email while you’re there. Just so I can say that I actually got a legitimate email from Nigeria. I still won’t send the money, though.

  4. Oh yes, on theft I’ve had my share, too. My lessons: Do not pack ALL your debit/credits cards in one place or wallet, but keep them always separate. Because, if the wallet gets stolen, you have nothing left. Also, I’ve seen cute kids surround a friend, begging for gifts, and when they were gone, so was his wallet out of the front pocket of his jeans (this was in Milano, Italy). Remember: A bulging pants pocket is an invitation and no challange to a pick-pocket, apparently.
    Otherwise, there shouldn’t be too much to fear from Nigeria. It’s one of the more advanced countries in Afrika, supposedly. Hope you’ve planned a day or two for an excursion away from the big city. Makes all the difference.

  5. Since our honeymoon I have a couple of jeans with inside pockets which you can only access if you lower them. So keep a few thousand Naira in your normal pockets for buying a coffee and keep the rest inside.
    have fun and come back well. Christian

  6. You are probably doing that anyway but keep your teaching materials in several places (don’t just have one backup but several – DVD, USB stick, DropBox, etc).

    Enjoy the trip!

  7. @Beatrix Willius
    Nah. Have the medicine for that. Plus, I’ve been amazed at how much I’ve been in a nice air conditioned room – not that it’s that hot outside, but it just means that I’m not exposed to too many mosquitos.

    I *am* a programmer, so being outside isn’t a problem.

  8. Apart from all the usual advices for an african journey, keep in mind one thing: Always keep paper tissues at hand. And if unfortunately you are running out of them, then buy new ones as soon as you can. I just wish you to never understand why I’m telling you this… 🙂

  9. I look forward to hearing all about your trip + pictures! It’s such an exciting opportunity; I’m glad you are stepping out of your confort zone.

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