Cultural awareness when traveling is an issue that faces almost all travelers. Depending on where you go, the level of culture shock may really impact your experience of that new country.
The culture shock or the social shake-up as some call it, can be a big problem, especially for new travelers with little experience.
There is only so much you can read and learn about a culture online. It is experiencing it where the real learning happens.
Often, it is your own travel experience that allows you to learn quickly and instinctively.
Over the years, my own travel experience has done just that. Today I am going to share some fantastic ideas that will help you deal with the social shake-up while you are travelling.
Learn before you leave:
Though there is nothing like experiencing the real thing, there is plenty of information out there to help you along the way.
Especially online, there are fantastic resources available, often free, such as YouTube and travel blogs. This is direct and real experience that others are passing on to you.
It is a great way to learn about the society of your destination and get a little glimpse of what you can experience.
If you prefer to research the traditional way, check out some travel guides. They may not be as engaging as modern media, but they do contain invaluable information.
Create a detailed plan for your travels:
Planning is essential when you are travelling, be it to a different city or an entirely different country. There are many aspects of planning a trip like packing, budget planning, and creating the itinerary.
However, one thing that will affect every aspect of your preparation is the social norms of the place you are visiting.
For example, before you can start packing, you need to know what kind of clothes are culturally appropriate. Are you showing to much skin…what do the locals wear and expect.
As a traveler, you want to enjoy your travels without running into any issues with locals. It also helps you blend more into the background which means you can have a more authentic experience.
Planning ahead also means that you need to be prepared in terms of location. Adapting to a new place quickly is important, and knowing exactly what you are doing when you arrive is imperative.
Do this before you arrive. The last thing you want to do is arrive somewhere at night without knowing where you need to go, let alone how. Preparation is your friend.
Make friends by staying in travel hostels:
Apart from being extremely affordable, another advantage of staying at a hostel while travelling is that you get to meet a lot of amazing and adventurous people. It is especially useful for people who are travelling alone.
The social scene in these travel hostels is impressive, there is a very authentic sense of community among the travelers, and they often arrange a lot of amazing events.
You can attend some hostel parties, go on organized trips, visit bars as well as a lot of other amazing activities with your new friends.
There is also the opportunity to learn a lot from the travelers you meet at the hostel. The more experienced travelers among you can help you navigate the local culture and give you the dos and don’ts of the local area.
You can also find a local guide through the hostel to help you understand the culture and society.
Choose the right way to finance your travels:
If you want to fund your travels, one way to do it is to apply for foreign jobs. These jobs allow you to have a more immersive and authentic travel experience, as you get to realy know that place.
There are many different kinds of foreign jobs that you can apply for, but the best one, in my opinion, is teaching English to international students.
Many schools in countries like Japan, China, The UAE, and many other European and Asian countries hire native English speakers to teach English in their schools.
You can apply for these jobs before you travel and make a decent amount of money while you are there.
Getting a teaching job also helps you combat social shake-up more quickly. Talking to other teachers who have been there a while, will help you learn from their experiences. They will be happy to help out a new colleague and fellow traveler.
Making some friends is the best way to combat the culture shock, inevitable when you apply for a foreign teaching job.
Travelling can be a lonely business. A teaching job has the advantage that it will allow you to make friends both in school and in the local area quickly.
Teaching English abroad can lead to a lot of amazing advantages, but you will need to have a TEFL certification. Now, you might be wondering how much does a TEFL certification cost? Well, it usually depends upon the institute you are getting the certification from, but on average it can cost around $300 or $400.
Try to learn some of the local language:
One of the most common problems that you will have to face in a different culture is language.
This was certainly the case when I traveled to China. I had a severe case of culture shock because everywhere I looked, I saw a language I didn’t understand…in writing I couldn’t read.
It was tough to find someone who spoke some English, which was a problem.
To try and minimize this, it really helps to learn a few key phrases. It will make your life easier. Write them down in a notebook or keep them on your phone.
It also helps to have some photos that you can show people… e.g. a picture of a toilet. As a communication method, it works.
It is much easier these days communicating in a country where you don’t speak the language. Google translate is your friend as well as a host of other translation apps. With artificial intelligence improving rapidly, this will only make things better with more efficient products.
Prepare yourself for the food:
Another aspect of a foreign culture that can start to cause problems over time, is the food.
No matter how excellent the local cuisine is, after a week of eating, you are going to start missing some familiar foods.
Let me give you an example of my trip to China. China has some fantastic cuisine and dishes, but they also eat food that I’m not brave enough to try.
Therefore, my diet was limited to a few dishes during the early part of my travels.
To counter this problem, you should limit the times you eat out. Not only does that save you money, it also allows you to balance your diet properly.
Let’s also not forget, the tentacles of globalism reach far and wide. In most case, you will be able to eat more familiar foods at familiar brands.
Every now and again, it is a welcome meal. However, embrace the region you are traveling in and accept their diet with positivity. You will look back with fondness…trust me on that.
My tips on cultural awareness when traveling should help you transition into your new environment with fewer issues. At the very least, it will help you create a starting point of what you need to research.
Since you are here…can i ask a favor?
It would be really nice if you could share this article and image on your social media.
Its just a couple of clicks for you but it means a lot to us here.
Thank you so much….