While I was living in Paris, I had a chance to show a traveler around the city. He was only in town for the day, and wanted to see some of the landmarks the City of Lights had to offer.
The irony does not escape me that I, not having lived there for more then a couple months, was showing someone else around this foreign city.
Irony aside, I obliged.
I was still curious, however, why he had not sought out a local to be his tour guide for the day, so I asked. He gave me a wonderful lesson about people's comfort zones:
"I am not from here, and neither are you. I thought I'd connect better with someone else who is far from home, too."
That is something I have seen occur time and time again, as well as something I have noticed myself doing in my own travels.
People want a reason to connect with those around them, even if what connects them is what would separate them in almost any other circumstance: that they are both from somewhere else.
Think about it. In college, you connect with your classmates or fellow freshman because they, too, are lost and confused as they wander around campus. At work, your first friends are those you met in orientation. In a foreign country, you instinctively find other expats.
And that's how a business man from India and a fashion student from the United States ended up exploring Paris together.
It was so wonderful to share my knowledge and experiences with someone else. To see his excitement as we crossed Luxembourg Gardens to Rue St. Michel and finally ended up at Notre Dame. After only a couple months (still in wonderment that I lived in Paris), I was already seeing Paris as my home, and re-appreciating it through someone else's eyes.
And I remembered what my Paris Tourist said about foreigners banding together, taking comfort in knowing I'm not alone no matter where I go.
Because we all have something in common, even when we least expect it.