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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How to Immerse Yourself in the Culture of a Country When Traveling



Traveling abroad is many people's dream and one of life's adventures that shouldn't be taken lightly or forgotten. The scenery and way of life in different regions can give you a new perspective of the world and help you appreciate the uniqueness of foreign places.

However, vacationing to a region across the globe isn't at all similar to reading about it in a book or hearing someone else's travel experiences. The best way to get the most out of your trip is knowing how to prepare early so that you don't run into any unpleasant surprises.

Lost on how to begin? There's no need to fret. Here's a few tips to help you eliminate culture shock and completely turn your fantasy of visiting another country into the perfect reality:

  • Be Respectful – Remember to mind your manners when you're visiting other parts of the world. Keep an open mind and don't let judgments get in the way of you getting to know other cultures. In order to do this, it's best to put yourself in a foreigner's shoes. Try to imagine how offended you'd feel if someone from another country came to your home and looked down on your way of life, forming negative opinions about you without putting forth the effort to fully get to know the makeup of your culture. If you've realized this isn't what you'd want to experience from anyone else, you'll make it a priority to avoid inflicting your criticisms on others from different countries.

  • Do Your Research – It's also important to review the general information about the country you plan to visit beforehand. Various books and online resources will help you get acquainted with the history, nightlife, aesthetic views, political backdrop, and cultural norms that resonate with a particular region. Knowing these details will make it easier for you to navigate through your intended destination. 

  • Learn the Language – You'll have difficulty understanding and processing what people say if you don't learn the native tongue of the community that you meet. There's several classes that'll allow you to expand your horizons. If you're pressed for time and can't find it in your schedule to physically attend onsite lectures, you can consider online courses at universities to help you reach your goals.
    Additionally, several online courses can help you learn foreign languages so you can communicate with citizens of the country that you're visiting. Additionally, you may have acquaintances or friends that you can practice with before you go on your trip. If you want to go an extra mile, it never hurts to learn the lingo or specific slang of communities as well.   

  • Unravel Misconceptions – Most people have preconceived notions about other regions that are inaccurate. It's crucial to be willing to eliminate stereotypes that about a foreign country and get to know people of different cultures for yourself instead of letting misconceptions influence the way you interact with others during your excursion. Also, you may find that the communities of people that you come in contact with have misguided opinions about your country. Don't let this isolate you. Remaining patient and communicative will enable natives of the country you're visiting to form a new positive view about the region you represent. 

  • Student vs. Tourist Perception – In order to not remain distant from the culture you're experiencing, it's best to think of yourself as a student rather than a tourist. This mindset will help you move from the role of a detached spectator to an involved newcomer. As a result, you'll seem more approachable and create new lasting connections with people. 

  • Get Familiar with Local Laws and Conditions – Be sure to observe the regulations and overall conditions of the country you're traveling to as well. Not knowing a community's laws can result in consequences, such as crime and warranted penalties that you could've otherwise avoided if you had taken the time to investigate. 

  • Have Fun – Lastly, remember that smiles and genuine kindness is the same language everywhere you go. The harmonious environment that you want to see starts with you and the way you responded to things. You can make the most out of your vacation by enjoying yourself and staying surrounded with uplifting vibes. Your positive attitude will be infectious, causing more people to be drawn to you.

Sources


Temple University: Education Abroad and Overseas Campuses (2012).

U.S. Department of State: Travel.State.Gov (2012)