No matter what the reason for your travels is, it is always important to remember that it is a privilege to be able to go where you like in the world. If you have the money and a nice net worth Sheryl Sandberg style, then being able to go will be no problem. Having the ability to cross a border to a distant land and absorb culture is an experience of a lifetime.
In order to experience a culture in all of its glory, it is necessary to travel. When you do, you’ll be more responsible and unprejudiced towards others. Below, we have five points to consider when traveling abroad and experiencing a different culture.
- Research the Destination’s Culture First
A week before you travel, conduct some research about the culture you will be visiting. This will give you a heads up on what differences you can expect. Once you know a few facts concerning your destination, you will be able to blend in with the locals easily.
Make it a point to know how the locals greet one another and other methods that may be different from your home country. You may feel like they are insignificant, but many countries may find their methods to be appropriate. A few examples include Asian cultures requiring the removal of shoes prior to entering homes, or North American countries may require the patron to provide a tip once a waiter has finished serving.
- Strike a Conversation With Others Who Have Been to Your Destination
Get a hold of someone who has been to the destination already. They will be able to tell you what to expect before you get there as well as what and what not to do. Get in touch through a blog, then write or read a book about the destination they have written.
- Show as Much Respect for Their Culture as You Would Expect for Yours
Once you have found a few differences in cultures and have learned about the traditions involved, you need to be able to apply what you learn to avoid misunderstandings.
Try to learn and understand more than just having an insight. This may lead to difficulty in interacting and thus not having them feel respected.
Whatever you do, make sure to not be egocentric as you travel. This could be seen as the most disrespectful behavior.
Essentially, you need to hang up all ego and come to a realization that no one culture is superior to another. You need to show gratitude towards why the local culture is unique and the way of life is how they want it to be.
Customarily, it won’t matter which country you visit because the people there will be naturally happy with the way they live. Your job is to just show respect and view the way they live and not try to tell them that their way is wrong.
- Communicate Well
By communicating well, you will be able to be in the most respectful behavior. This pertains to interacting with others in a friendly manner and is not viewed as hostile or aggressive.
You will find that the interactions you have may seem difficult and this may lead to hesitation from a local. This may require you to be seen as being trusting. By remaining positive, smiling often, and showing patience, it will go a long way when you need to communicate.
Although you try your best to show respect and are ready to face the culture, you need to realize that mistakes happen which may cause you to lose your temper. For example, a bus running late or getting shortchanged while shopping, or even being given the wrong directions ending in you becoming lost, you need to attempt to remain calm so that you can find your right path.
- Be Empathetic
In order to show even more positive behavior towards the culture, it is a good idea to be empathetic towards it. This will give you a bigger perspective of what they are going through so you can act accordingly.
You may realize that in the area you are in, there will always be equal tones underneath. No matter what their background, social status, religion, or whatever, the same emotions are felt across the board.