Traveling abroad is usually super enjoying and inspired, which can go wrong very easily. You need to understand that you are interfering with other cultures, where their habits might be to our western eyes odd, awkward or even disgusting in some cases. So, how to prepare for this culture shock and achieve a mindset where you will still enjoy travel no matters what?
Table of contents
Interfering With Other Cultures
understand that you are interfering with other cultures, where their habits might be to our western eyes odd, awkward or even disgusting in some cases. So, how to prepare for this culture shock and achieve a mindset where you will still enjoy travel no matters what?
First and most important tip – read! The school doesn’t prepare you for this, and here in the US much further from knowing all states and presidents is hard to get. For god sake, abroad are even jokes about this: “what is a difference between Yogurt and American? Yogurt has a culture in it”. Funny or not, with some truth behind it. But hey, you are the owner of your head and you can stock into it whatever you want. Start with other cultures, history, political situations, and interesting facts. Come prepared with the knowledge and be ready for this culture shock!
Talk! This is the second tip, which the same important as is read if you ask me. Connect with the locals and get their trust. After some time you will get insights into their lives, culture, and facts which aren’t written anywhere. When you gain their trust they will teach a lot. Don’t be afraid of asking questions, and give them a chance to answer their questions. They are also curious about your life. Especially if you are like us, Duke and Duchess of Sausage on their honeymoon. What? Nothing…
Teach! This one is connected to the previous tip. You should teach locals what you know and explain to them how life is from where you are. I was surprised when my Vietnamese friend explained to me how he sees us. He described us white travelers as rich people who are exploring Asia and spending money. All of us, without differences. This is why they try to get as much money from you as they can. When I explained to him how wrong he is and that I have only $100 on my bank account, so it is still a mystery how I will come back to my home, he started looking differently on this. With this talk, I also gained his trust, I was the same in his eyes, so he easily shared more with me.
Keep it Slow!
Slow pace! I know this tip is not for everyone, but maybe more people could stick to it but they don’t realize. Don’t travel fast folk! This is the worst what you can do. On our travels, I have met infinity travelers, who are just rushing through the whole world. We are now one and a half years here in Asia and visited only four countries. To be honest, we barely touched the cultures, habits, and lives of locals here. Diversity is enormous and places are much more than only Instagramable places. Try not to be this Insta traveler! You don’t see the real world, you spend more money and you will be disappointed.
But I Don’t Like It Here
“I don’t like Vietnam, people are rude.” If I would get a penny for everytime I hear that… Of course, you don’t like it. People here are different, they open to you slow. I will not say I like them more because I travel slowly, but I do understand them and my experience is totally different. Instead, 5 countries, choose one or two and take it easy. Transport money will cover your accommodation and you will save money when you know where to eat cheaper or even for free. When we stay long in one place, locals invite us to have dinner with them. And this is a great opportunity to try new food and get more insights into the culture.
Patience! Things abroad are different as they are at home. Expect nothing like at home. “Bus today late. A today no bus, sorry la” The world is not over, keep calm find another ride or simply stay a day or two more. Keep your voice down is in the same chapter. Don’t argue with locals, try to solve things in a calm tone and prepare yourself on some defeats.
Keep Your Head Sober
Keep your head sober! A lot of embarrassing things happen usually when our head is full of substances like alcohol. Alcohol is cheap and drinking while traveling is an international sport, I guess. When drinking, be careful and stay safe. Here, I have a funny story, which could be avoided if you obey my first tip.
Travel Story: Buffalo on Sale
There is a village in Vietnam, where it looks like the time simply stops. Locals are in general very nice and warm people, but when it gets dark… They drink a lot, and they will do everything you will join them. Rice wine with a taste of pure petroleum and its plastic-bottle aftertaste will burn your throat while you will be dancing with this “crazy” locals. The moon is shiny and there she is, beautiful girl with her long thick dark hair and penetrating eyes. I really got lucky today is your first thought and making love with her opens to you ‘The Orient’. All good, till your room curtains, got knocked off and the whole village is there like they are making a purge. Her father looks disappointed but respects her choice.
Now, here is a deal. Either you marry this girl and take care of her or buy a water buffalo from her father. I guess there is a third option, but did I mention the whole village with fire lamps and forks? The bottom line is this village has the most foreigner owners of water buffalos on the world.
Culture Shock is nothing else than bad preparation for the travel. Before you go, try to get as much information as you can and you will see, many doors will be open for you. Not because you are Mr. I know it all, but because you will show some empathy and understanding.
How to Avoid Culture Shock
Start with other cultures, history, political situations, and interesting facts. Come prepared with the knowledge and be ready
Be like David Attenborough in the middle of a group of gorillas. Watch and learn.
- Talk With Locals
Don’t be afraid of asking questions, and give locals a chance to answer their questions. They are also curious about your life
This one is great for younger native English speaking travelers
- Keep it Slow
Travel at a slow pace. Don’t be like Chad, who will travel the whole world in two months…
Things abroad are different as they are at home. Expect nothing like at home. Don’t argue with locals, try to solve things in a calm tone and prepare yourself on some defeats.
- Keep Your Head Sober
A lot of embarrassing things happen usually when our head is full of substances like alcohol. You can read my story related to this.
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