You’ve saved the funds and taken time off of work to travel abroad, but are you ready? Visiting a foreign culture can often be a shocking and exhilarating experience, and it may seem easy to rely on your instincts to get by. However, your instincts are foreign to the locals, and to have the best time abroad, you should adapt as much as possible to the foreign culture. With these tips, adapting to any culture will be easier than booking your flight!
You don’t have to become fluent to enjoy a language. Even just a few key phrases will put you ahead of the English-speaking tourists that flock to cities the world over. Imagine a waiter in Paris forced to speak English with tourists all day long; it’s likely tiresome and annoying. Now this waiter comes to you, but since you’ve prepared, you’re able to say what you want in French. Sure, your French may be broken and with a hilarious accent, but the waiter knows you’ve tried. Suddenly, he feels respected in his own country! You will get more attention, faster service, and maybe even a free desert.
Speaking even just a few words of the language is not only respectful, but it will also provide you with more opportunities while abroad. Locals will be more inclined to give you directions and hangout with you if you say “hello” in their language. You’d be surprised at how many people expect everyone in the world to know English. Knowing just a few words shows that you care about the locals and their country, and in return, they will show you a better time. Plus, they will be more apt to speak English with you if necessary.
You’re a million miles from home, and you want to have a cheeseburger? Of course not! Since you’re in a new country, you’re planning to try all of the local foods and entertainments, right? Roasted frog legs, beetroot soup, and salted insects are all on the menu for you since you’re ready to dive into a new culture. Remember, you’re in a new country for the first and possibly last time, and it’d be a waste of resources to not try everything you can. Sure, some of the foods may sound gross, but you will return with more lasting memories after stepping outside of your comfort zone. Take a chance and don’t be afraid of new things!
If it turns out you hate the foreign foods, you will still return home with a newfound respect for your own culture. Trying new things will always be a positive experience. You will either love them or end up appreciating your home more than you ever thought possible.
Maybe you’re used to eating dinner at seven, but in Spain, restaurants don’t even open until ten because of the daily siesta. Instead of starving and waiting in hunger for the doors to open, you should join the siesta and learn why it’s so widespread! Since many cultures operate on schedules different from your own, you can learn a lot about the world and your own culture just by joining in. Before you go, research when people have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and then plan accordingly. This will help you to avoid hunger, and you will leave with a greater understanding of how people can operate depending on their cultures.
Be yourself! While learning some of the language and customs will greatly enhance your experience, you don’t have to change your identity just because you’re abroad. Locals will appreciate learning from you too as long as you’re respectful of them. Go abroad, leave your routines and inhibitions at home, and have the time of your life experiencing a drastically different culture!