Connecting with the Local Culture

When traveling abroad while either on vacation or for work, your ability to connect with the local culture fundamentally depends on your knowledge about the host nation, culture shock, and volition to assimilate to another culture’s lifeways without losing yourself.

Your primary concern abroad should be to maintain and conserve your health. Proper amounts of exercise and an adequate diet will sustain the human body while being confronted by outside factors both physical and psychological in nature. As cultural perspectives towards the concept of cleanliness differ from one macroculture to another, ensure that you retain a respectable level of personal hygiene by bathing frequently and brushing your teeth after meals and before enjoying a peaceful slumber.

Exercise not only fortifies your constitution but also promotes a higher self-confidence level, which should neutralize forthcoming illnesses related to foreign microbes and bacteria. Make sure that eating establishments thoroughly clean and prepare vegetables and meat: refrigeration is paramount. Exposed meat not only attracts flies but also invites disease and food poisoning. Accept invitations to dine out from people that you have met. Try new foods, but remember that people around the world will respect eating habits due to health or religious matters. A visitor needn’t try every local dish or savor local delicacies that are still twitching, swimming in blood or screaming in pain from a recent decapitation. Rat tails might resemble calamari, but when in doubt, elude negative peer pressure just to satisfy curious onlookers. Hands down, I prefer pumpkin pie.

Once your physical self-conservation is taken care for, social survival skills enable one to function regardless of how far away from home, the political or religious context you currently find yourself immersed in. From the first moment you step off the plane, the language barrier is normally an obstacle to be breached with celerity. However, a certain linguistic inability could be made to work in one’s favor. After the foreign language learner is proficient enough to fluently communicate his or her ideas with members of the local community, acceptance becomes more probable. The ability to carry out everyday activities in the target language will usher a higher self-confidence level while facilitating one’s ability to further explore both nearby and distant surroundings.

With the ability to engage in conversation, ask locals about your new home’s history. Knowing how to say “road” in another language will ensure linguistic survival while learning why a particular street was named after two infamous swordsmiths will make your stay much more pleasant, augmenting your appreciation of the local culture: take time out of a busy day to stop and smell the roses. The Chinese character for the word “stop” is a pictograph of a man standing beside a pavillion. Could the copious quantity of Mexican speed bumps serve the same purpose? Opt to stow your GPS device and purchase a city map. Reach out to locals for land navigation assistance. Members of the host culture should be overjoyed to assist orienting travelers while showing off their tremendous knowledge to effortlessly navigate through taking advantage of shortcuts.

Culture shock comes in waves. Enjoy the good times while learning from days that leave much to be desired. Avoid discriminating against others while treating everyone with tact. Others will respect your actions and go out of their way to achieve your company.

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