Your friend comes back from traveling abroad and you sit down together at a coffee shop, freshly brewed lattes in hand. And then comes the age-old, well-meaning (but dare I say, dreaded?) question:
“So, how was your trip?”
I’m not bashing the question – I fully understand that it’s the first one that naturally comes to mind. I still catch myself asking it from time to time! But let’s be honest here – it’s broad and hard to answer. So much happens on trips to another country, and asking a question like that can leave people unsure of what to share and wondering if you are just looking for a general answer like, “It was good!” so that you can move the conversation along to another topic.
Perhaps they were studying abroad, on vacation, doing a short-term missions trip, or away for a longer period of time. No matter what the reason was, traveling to another country and experiencing a new culture can be quite difficult to process, let alone summarize in a few sentences.
As their friend, I’m sure you genuinely want to know how their trip was – you don’t just want a generic answer. And I’m sure that they genuinely want to share about their trip and experiences. So here’s a simple little trick that will help both of you out and get the conversation flowing…
Ask specific questions!
It’s not that hard, and I’ll make it even easier for you (no excuses now!). I’ve compiled a short list of questions to get you started – you’ll be a expert-trip-conversationalist in no time!
What is something you learned about the culture? What differences did you observe from our culture? What were similarities?
Tell me about the people. What were some of your favorite interactions?
What was the food like? What was the strangest thing you ate?
What was one of the most incredible sights you saw?
What was a moment that brought a smile to your face?
What was one of the hardest moments while you were there?
Where did you see beauty?
Where did you see pain?
What is your favorite story from the trip?
What is something God taught you during the trip?
The great thing is that, by asking specific questions, not only will you learn a lot but you will also give them a chance to verbally process what they experienced. It’s always refreshing to have a listening ear from someone who is truly interested.
And a quick note to those who are on the receiving end of questions. There are going to be people who ask, “How was your trip?” and only want a quick answer. It’s just a fact. But when you know that someone genuinely wants to know, try asking them to clarify and narrow it down to a specific question. It helps both of you! You have the chance to hear what they really want to know, and they are giving you opportunity to share more than, “It was good and I really enjoyed it.”
I hope that this gives you a starting place for deep and meaningful conversations with your friends who have traveled abroad! And who knows – as they share with you about their experiences, maybe you’ll be inspired to go on some new adventures of your own.
Comment below with your favorite questions to ask or be asked about traveling abroad!