Currency is weird. I’m just going to start with that because these little pieces of paper (is it paper?) mean so much in one country and next to nothing in another.
The concept of money becomes so clearly strange when a specific currency is taken out of the location where it is actually used. Somewhere along the line we all agreed that certain papers with specific ink patterns were worth more than other papers with different ink patterns. It doesn’t stop there though, you have to be in a particular place for those certain papers with specific ink patterns to be valuable.
All that aside, this concept has become entirely real since our society as a whole agrees it is real. Unfortunately another part of that reality is a disconnect between the United States and currency from other countries.
Last year my sister was living in Europe. When I did laundry upon coming home from visiting her I emptied all my pockets before putting them into the wash. Out came the €34.94 that might have been really helpful in the Dublin airport.
Unfortunately these bits of paper were about 100% less useful than they would have been 24 hours prior. The money ended up in a drawer, forgotten until a friend of mine told me he was going to study abroad in France.
A couple weeks before he left, he sat giddy on my couch google mapping the city he would call home. He told me about the people he was so excited to meet and the program that would help him become fluent in French. His smile was contagious, even more than it usually is.
This is when I realized why my family was so insistent that he take our left over euros. In theory, they could be saved for a future trip to Europe or we could bring it to a currency exchange. However, by having my friend take them to Europe, we became a part of his adventure.
In my possession, those tiny pieces of paper would have been lost in a drawer, potentially never to be found again. Pretty much anything else you could do with money would be more valuable than this.
For my friend, those tiny pieces of paper might mean his first bottle of French wine. They might pay for some groceries, or a night out with new friends.
That’s pretty good for little bits of paper. I hope you’re having a great time, Sam.