We all have those friends who have traveled to a foreign country and when they return all they do is talk about that place. Many have tales of their experiences and you will hear them saying, “when I was in America this, America that”. We see them put up pictures with hashtag throwbacks that go as old as 5 years back. I too have found myself guilty in a way or two. You will find me with friends, telling stories of our first days in China.

I must say, living in a foreign land is an interesting thing most especially because of the difference in the culture you will encounter. Some places most especially if one is familiar with the language are easy to adapt to and others prove difficult. China, for example, is a place I have lived in for over 3 years and each day comes with its own stories. If you have not learned the language, you are always pointing and making sign language to express yourself. In a cafeteria, you either stick to food you can actually tell by looking at or you pray that whatever you picked is what you want. When you go shopping, you stick to the big supermarkets and grocery stores where you will pick what you want, so that you don’t have to ask for what you can’t really say. If you can’t find it, you come back another day and the search will continue.

I have always laughed at my friends’ experiences and yet always too shy to tell mine. Today, it came back vividly and I thought to myself, why not tell? I mean what harm would it cause me to actually admit that I mistakenly used a shower gel as a lotion? Yes, many may wonder, how can that happen? Well, it did.

After a long search for petroleum jelly, I resorted to buying Dove.

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In my earlier days, I went to do some shopping at Walmart. After a long search for petroleum jelly, I resorted to buying Dove. I had never used the lotion before but because I had searched in vain and had seen many other lotions with Chinese characters, I opted for Dove,  the only familiar one.

It had a nice scent but I found using it rather hard. First of all, it took a long time to be absorbed into the skin. Then, I had to apply a little extra so that the skin was not left pale. At times, when it was close to my eyes, or if I rubbed them, they would itch. So I always had to avoid the eye areas. The skin did not feel so comfortable either but  a month passed and I got used to it.

One day as I did some chores at my house, water spilled on me. I used my hands to dry it off, but I realized the lotion became soapy, just like a shower gel would do. It then hit me, I could have been using a shower gel all this while. Just to confirm my suspicions, I decided to get my phone and use Pleco, an app I had just installed on my phone, that enables you to enter Chinese characters and get the English meaning. (It is more of an English-Chinese dictionary app)

It was confirmed! I had actually used a shower gel as a lotion for over a month! I laughed at myself and still do up to today, thanks to Pleco.

The world has evolved and I must confess, technology is making things easier. If you want to learn a new language, it is a matter of getting the right app. If you need to prepare for an important exam, there is an app for that. I am actually watching my weight and keeping track of my daily exercises using my phone! So the smartphone is so many things in one making it a necessity and not just a luxury.

No, I have not made that mistake again and maybe some other day I will tell of another embarrassing escapade!