Travel: Customs v. Language Acquisition

I have been to more than half of the continents of the world and spent almost 2 years in Asia. To say that travel interests me, would be a gross understatement. I am a gypsi, with a freedom to travel and not be bound by any one place. Perhaps that’s why my Online Fitness Services have been so emphasized in 2015, leading into 2016. I am sorry, I digress, back to my main point.

As a career traveler, I have found it not to be difficult for me to pick up and leave at a drop of a hat.  Some people have not traveled out of their own state and so when they do travel abroad, I am often a person they ask to give advice. Ready for it?

The most important thing someone can do is learn the customs and culture of the people, the place you will be traveling to. No, language acquisition is not more important than learning the customs of the country and more specifically, the region of the country you are going to. If the country is large, then chances are depending on the region, their will be subtle differences.

You are a direct representation of the country you are from.  Whether you like it or not, you represent where you come from.  If you are from the great country of America, it is in your best interest to act your best and knowing a people’s customs will be in your best interest.  Some places in which you travel already have a preconceived notion of how you already are as an American. They have either seen other tourists possibly offend or they have heard from friends.

If you go to a country, especially a small region, you may run into people that stare at you. Maybe they have not seen a Westerner before. They are not trying to be rude and so you should not be offended. Many may want to take many pictures with you while you are out to lunch or at a nightclub.  Smile and oblige. This of course could happen in very large cities also, where they are used to seeing Westerners. Either way, a smile is the universal language for gratitude, love and appreciation.

The way you enter a room, the way you greet someone, the way you behave at a social engagement (especially during meal time), will require a certain level of awareness as to not offend. I find that through the world wide web, you can learn the customs of the place you will be visiting. Study that the week before you leave, at the airport and on the flight. You know you won’t be able to sleep anyway, you’ll be too excited!

What about language acquisition, how do I feel about that?

Basic phrase book.

I have found that purchasing a basic phrase book can make all the difference in the world. Yea, I still like books. You can install apps on your mobile device(s) instead or in conjunction with a book. I find though, that learning basic phrases is enough.

You see, when you attempt to say “hello,” to someone in their native language, it’s absolutely exciting to them. They may giggle, or become a little shy but that is mostly because it is interesting for them to hear their own native tongue spoken by a foreign tongue.

People are so thankful and happy that you are trying, making an attempt to use some of their language.  People that do not try and expect everyone should just speak English is where the problem lies.

If I am a guest in someone else’s country, I will do my very best to learn what their customs are first and I will do my best to pick up basic phrases to get by and I always will smile my way through any miscommunication that may be there. I will smile regardless of the situation.

I hope this helps all of you would be travelers! I implore you to get up, get out, and enjoy culture.

After all, a well traveled human is not just a citizen of their country but a citizen of humanity.  Travel breeds appreciation.

 

1 Comment

  1. Andrea September 12, 2015 at 9:12 pm #

    That is so true I see people’s eyes just light up when you just say hello in their language

    Reply

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