5 Ways to Experience a New Country
When anyone goes on holiday, or goes travelling, they go with the intention of enjoying a different culture and atmosphere. Some like to stay by the pool, and some like to go hiking in the mountains – whatever you prefer doing, there are only a few ways to explore a different country. And not just see the sites, but to really experience the culture and the history of the place. Here’s a quick guide to how I travel and experience new places.
Grab your backpack and be prepared to travel. A country is so much more than a few hotels, or one city. Pick a mix of destinations, and rent a car or buy train tickets in order to travel to each of them. You can visit main cities, or some of the country’s main attractions, maybe you’ll travel to the best foodie hot spots in the country, who knows?
STEP OUTSIDE OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Each country has a tourist trap area which is what you are most likely to see in travel booklets or online guides. But to see the country, you need to get out of the tourist areas. Particularly if you’ve headed somewhere outside of Western culture – you need to step out of the areas tailored to western people and really experience the way the people in that country live.
LEARN (AT LEAST SOME OF) THE LANGUAGE
Even if you can only utter a few phrases, you’ll get further than just speaking your native tongue. It’s an unfortunate but common thought that everyone can speak English. And where a lot of countries do teach English as a second language in school, it doesn’t mean that you can’t dive in and learn a language yourself. I love that I can speak a little bit of Spanish when I visit Spain, I find that a lot of people appreciate it a bit more, and even offer you some help when you’ve forgotten a phrase.
You will learn the most about a country if you actually live there. It’s not within everyone’s price range to buy a home abroad, but if you can then get in contact with a property investment company and buy a house in a different country. Whether you’re going to rent it out or use it as a holiday home, living somewhere is the best chance of fully experiencing a place. One of my closest friends, Niamh, has moved to Korea (!). It’s such a brave and bold move, but one to definitely undertake if you have the constant travel bug.
EAT THE CUISINE
When we go abroad, one of the biggest culture shocks can be the food. But don’t shy away from it – embrace it. The cultural heritage that surrounds a country’s native food is grown from the history of culinary development, and the food available to them before importing took over the world.