Travelling is one of the essential things you can do to develop your understanding of the world around you and the people living in it. As a student, travelling adds value to your CV, develops your communication skills and lets you experience new cultures. However, cultural differences may impact you enormously while travelling. Don't worry; we're here to help you! We will guide you through how to embrace cultural differences while travelling and make your experience abroad as productive as it can be.
Cultural differences or cultural diversity is thought of as identifying the cultures' different acquired values and historical experience. These differences may influence an individual's behaviour and motivation. However, embracing cultural differences in the appreciation of these differences in individuals from various cultural backgrounds within a country. The purpose is to let these groups from different cultural backgrounds participate and have equal opportunities in all aspects of life, and this is called inclusion.
Before travelling, as a student, you should be aware that your colleagues at universities or your flatmates at your new student accommodation may not be from the same cultural backgrounds. Therefore, you should know how to embrace cultural differences and deal with those colleagues and flatmates.
Cultural difference is essential in every aspect of life as it leads to innovation, productivity, problem-solving, and new opportunities. A lot of benefits arise from cultural differences within the education setting. Universities and colleges often have a diverse student demographic, with students from many countries across the world. This makes learning more dynamic and productive and leads to deeper learning and understanding of different people and cultures.
Here are a few tips that will help you accept cultural differences willingly and enthusiastically and make the most of them:
Before travelling to another country, do your own research about the culture of the country you are travelling to. This is a great way to develop your understanding of cultural diversity and prepare yourself for the cultural differences you will experience. Look for local cuisine, etiquettes, etc. to learn about the native people's culture and history, check out different resources at a public library near you or online. Also, talk to someone who has travelled there before so they can share their stories with you and help you feel more prepared before you travel to a foreign country with a different culture.
Another way to embrace cultural differences is to talk to someone from a different cultural background and try to communicate with them in their native language. This helps you expand your knowledge about cultural differences and practice the language you are learning. Don't be afraid to ask them questions. Questions let you navigate deeper into the other's world and cultures. While they answer your questions and tell you about their culture, be an attentive listener. Speak clearly and slowly, smile and be patient. Also, use gestures and hand signals carefully after researching thoroughly.
While doing your research, look for local gestures and hand signals. Read about how locals welcome each other, whether they take their shoes off before entering a home, whether they leave tips in restaurants or cafes, and more. These might seem trivial, but a positive gesture or hand signal in your country might be highly offensive in another. For example, the OK sign where you put your thumb and finger together to shape a circle is used in the US to convey agreement. However, it is considered offensive in Brazil, Spain, Greece, and Turkey. Furthermore, expect a firm handshake in Australia and Brazil; however, firm handshakes are considered rude in Turkey. Shaking hands in Russia at a threshold level is considered unlucky.
Another excellent way to embrace cultural differences in learning the native language of the country you are visiting. Learn some phrases and words of the new language, and if you have time, even how to speak a specific dialect. These help you approach native speakers effectively and interact with them thoroughly. If you are travelling to the UK or Australia, check out our blogs that will help you differentiate between the Aussie and the UK slang Words.
Travelling also broadens your horizons in learning about different cultures. Experiencing a community other than yours and living among its native people help you understand them more intimately. It also provides you with cultural awareness and acceptance and helps in breaking cultural barriers by interacting with people from different cultural backgrounds.
One of the best ways to embrace cultural differences while travelling is visiting tourist attractions. History museums and art exhibits are your gates to know how to interact with locals and approach them effectively. Discover new things about the country's history and better understand how indigenous people used to live in the past and their journey to this point in time. From your couch, check out virtual tours and discover new cultures. Due to the current pandemic and travel ban, some museums and historical places offer virtual tours to allow you to experience the culture of their countries without leaving your home.
The cuisine is part of any culture. Each country has its own food recipes and seasonings. Try the different local foods and drinks of the country you are travelling to. Attend food-related events and festivals, such as the truffles season in Italy. Alternatively, join food-focused tours in capital cities or small towns to try iconic local dishes of these countries.
In addition, welcoming friends from different cultural backgrounds to dinner at your home is a mutual benefit and fun; You can help them understand your own culture, and you learn more about theirs. Serve your favourite local dish and talk about its ingredients and the story behind it. Each time you meet with those friends, enjoy a meal from a different country and let the native friend talk about their country's culture and history.
Reading literature is another important way to embrace cultural differences. Literature enables you to see the world with the eyes of others, familiarises you with differences across cultures and gives you tips on how to deal with these differences. Besides, it helps you comprehend other perspectives. To be more flexible, try to analyse the character of the protagonist or your favourite character in the story/novel. You will then enlarge your understanding that there are different types of people and that they have other languages, pronunciations, behaviours, habits, cultures, lifestyles, and colours.
One of the best ways to embrace cultural differences is respecting your own culture and heritage. Work on your self-awareness. Everyone is unique and has their values, opinions and lifestyles. However, don't force others to adapt your thoughts, behaviour or lifestyle. You are a tourist in countries other than your homeland. Respect and appreciate other cultures and remember that we all share this planet.
Following these tips while travelling will help you embrace cultural differences. Remember! Accepting that there are different cultures will make your trip more fruitful and enjoyable! Let us know what else you will do to embrace cultural differences while travelling.