We’ve got 5 good reasons to stay more open to cultural differences that make every country unique. After all it’s us who should adapt to another culture when we travel and not the other way round. We should open our minds to differences. See how you can actually benefit from staying more open to the things that initially leave you puzzled. Being open-minded is the only way we will learn something from other cultures. Isn’t it why we all started to travel in the first place?
Everyone is different. But even though we know that, we conitnue pushing other people to be more like us. We expect them to behave the way we want them to. Instead we could just simply accept differences. Many say this is the key to peace and happiness, not only in ourselves, but when you think about it- the entire World. How profound was that?! This is also why I travel – to bring peace and happiness to my soul.
I remember how strongly I dreamed about it before my first trip. What I remember even more is what a massive failure that trip was. I was not prepared for clashing with a different culture. Shock mixed with frustration. Three weeks of hell I came back home even more tired than I left. That was the moment when I started considering my further travels. Fortunately, the little Nomad in my head whispered to give it another shot. So I decided to figure out what went wrong. Why was everybody so enthusiastic about the people and countries they visited. How could they relax in a place where everything and everyone was driving me nuts? And then, out of the sudden the sad and painful moment of true came to enlighten me. It appeared that I can blame no one, but myself. I was so egocentric I forgot that I am the guest in their country. I was welcomed in the best possible way I could. It was my mind that was too closed to appreciate and understand that. All I could notice was just some weird behaviour that annoyed me. You can’t even imagine how ashamed I felt. That became my motivation to take the next trip and do it properly this time. Now that I’m older and wiser let me share with you some secrets I’ve learned.
EVERY COUNTRY HAS ITS HISTORY
You go to school, you’re being taught, you think you know. And I’m telling you, you know nothing. Especially when it comes to history. There is no such thing as one history. Just like every person, also every nation will see it’s history differently. And you can learn from each and every interpretation of history. Every country carries it’s baggage, so unless you know it from scratch don’t you dare judge them. Talk to them, don’t be afraid to ask questions. That may give you the answers to the questions of where did their habits come from. You will be surprised how fast your emotions may change from resentment to understanding and even affection.
THIS AIN’T NO FREAK SHOW
We usually laugh at things that scare us or the things we don’t understand. Visiting foreign lands is very often synonymous with witnessing different kinds of local rituals, solemnities or celebrations. Sometimes we admire them, because they are accompanied with beautiful costumes or dance that grabs our heart. Other times we just stare at it with disbelief and disgust. But do we know the genesis? Usually, not. And trust me this could help you look at the bigger picture. Some of you might have heard about Phuket Vegetarian Festival. First thing that comes to your mind is probably: yeah, those freaks that pierce their cheeks with swords and table lamps. Well… yes… I know what it sounds like. How is that not a freak you think But did you know that Thais truly believe that by mutilation and trans-like state the spirits of gods will possess their bodies which will save their family from evil and diseases. Makes more sense now?
WHAT IF WE’RE NOT THE BRIGHTEST CRAYONS IN THE BOX
In a brutal world of the race between developed countries, each of them likes to think their solution of social problems are the best. Take one open-minded trip to a foreign country and you may see that it’s not entirely true. Even if the solution does not seem better, maybe it’s still worth considering because other people might be right. Let’s take for example Switzerland. A country with one of the highest tax rates in the world. We’re wondering how can they possibly survive. They are saying, well imagine living in a country where almost everyone has a job, social welfare support and access to education. Or Scandinavia, why do they let teenegers take part in after graduation drinking sessions? Because they would do that anyway. So by allowing them to party by riding in a party bus, parents know where their kids are and that none of them come up with an idea to drink and drive. Although it may sound controversial, it works.
KNOWLEDGE CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE
I’m wondering if it ever came to your mind that knowing a cultural difference could be very useful when you get to a hospital. I found a story that says it can. An Irish girl was hospitalized, examined by a physician and scheduled for a surgery in a few days. The next day she got worse but as for an Irish girl she notified that she is in more pain but she minimized expression of it. The Physician ignored the patient’s concerns, because in his country women in pain are much more vocal. The story ends pretty tragically, the girl died by the time of her surgery.
A FOREIGN COUNTRY IS NOT DESIGNED TO MAKE YOU COMFORTABLE. IT’S DESIGNED TO MAKE ITS OWN PEOPLE COMFORTABLE
Wherever you go you are only a guest. You don’t walk around your friends house and complain that their sofa is uncomfortable, their food in the fridge is disgusting and you hate the color they’ve put on their walls. It should be exactly the same when you visit other countries. You don’t have to like everything, but you should accept it the way it is and what’s even more important to respect it and follow the rules.
Getting to know a culture is not an easy thing. Sometimes it takes months of staying in one place to get to know the rules of the country. But do all you can to acknowledge it. Do the research, ask questions, observe. Be positive and realistic. Try to prepare yourself for what can meet you at your destination. Be more open-minded. Those are experiences that make you richer. And remember that the whole world is motivated by the same thing: fear and love. We may seem different but we’re all just the same