Whether you are taking a short trip or moving to live in a new culture, there are some key attitudes that will make the experience more enjoyable and enriching. I have learned that successful travel begins with your attitude.
- Curiosity and expectancy: Approach people and experiences with a sense of curiosity to discover what you can learn. Even though the language may be a barrier, attempt to talk to as many locals as you can. Learn a few phrases of the local language. Ask questions and be open minded to the things you hear and see. Listen more than you speak and try everything! Get off the tourist path and wander the back streets. Capture the sounds, the tastes, and the beauty all around you. Unplug your phone and your camera for a few moments and just live the experience. Go with the flow and learn from the unexpected.
- Humility: Don’t expect things to be the same as “at home.” And when they aren’t, don’t compare negatively to home. Don’t expect everyone to want to know you or like you because you are an American. Do expect that people may have certain stereotypes of Americans. Just don’t be “that” American—loud, brash, and ethnocentric. Be flexible and positive when things don’t go the way that you expect. Be humble and remember that you are a guest of their country. Again, be willing to learn and allow your perspective to be broadened and stretched. You’ll be better for it.
- Respect and empathy: As a guest, it isn’t your place to evaluate why things are done they way they are. As you soak in the language and the lifestyle, learn what people in that country value. Attempt to see the world through their eyes. Honor their perspectives. Embrace the goodness you find in the place you are visiting. Watch how mothers love their children, how fathers provide for the families, how friends interact. You may even find yourself evaluating certain of your own values.
As you visit a new country with these attitude, you will find your life has become enriched. You will discover the wonder of a new place!
About the Author: Barb is the IDEAS Community Life DIrector and spent 13 years overseas with her family.