Having lived in 5 countries, travelled 30+ countries and crossed borders by car in 15+ countries; yet there is one thing that always remains in me.
It is my immense joy in meeting new people, learning new languages and embracing new culture.
I find immense joy from volunteer work helping the Aboriginal Communities in Central Australia to having a meal together on a carpet with an Arab Family in the Middle East to even drinking Green tea in Kyoto (the Traditional Way) and so on.
Life truly is a never ending lesson in humility. Travelling and Living in another country that is totally different (from what we are familiar with) truly open’s our outlook towards life in a very positive way.
There is so much to learn in life and living or travelling in another country definitely helps.
It’s important to be aware of some cultural differences before-hand in order to avoid unnecessary culture shock or get caught off guard when one arrives in a Foreign Country.
To be a Mindful resident or traveller one has to know few things before living or travelling in a foreign country.
- Research the country, people, culture, religion and language of destination in advance: Have a small understanding of the country’s laws such as: what is permitted by their law and what isn’t.
Even knowing simple information about the destination country such as the local people’s way of life can be very helpful to integrate.
Dress appropriately by following the local cultural way of wearing formal or informal clothes (as the western style may be viewed as inappropriate or rude).
For instance: it is important for a woman to carry a scarf especially in places considered sacred; it is customary to take the shoes off before entering a home in Japan; public display of affection (like French kissing) can be frowned upon and so on.
Regardless; avoid drinking alcohol in Islamic countries (except if some of those countries’ laws permits) and be flexible to follow Vegetarian or Pescatarian diet to avoid unnecessary troubles with the locals (for instance: cow is considered sacred in India; consumption of pork products in Islamic countries is prohibited; and so on).
Also, as a sign of respect for the local culture, it’s important to learn few words such as: “Hello”, “Thank you”, “Sorry” and so on. On the contrary, making no effort to learn few words might be considered as arrogant or impolite or disinterested in the local culture.
Research is important to avoid the risk of being in a culture shock or get caught off guard. Or even worse, offend the local people.
- Be empathetic: When travelling or living in a foreign country; it is important to be empathetic, see things positively and try to blend in.
No country or culture is the best or worst. For any given reasons, the local people are content with their way of life. So, avoid being egocentric by being respectful to the local people’s way of living and never assert one’s own ways on the local people.
It is not possible to know everything about different country’s customs and traditions. As such, mistakes are bound to happen.
So, be apologetic and (rather surprisingly) most people will forgive. Some will even find humour in your mistake.
Regardless; be empathetic (by seeing things in others perspective), view things positively and try to blend in.
- Never support the exploitation of animals or (worse) animal cruelty: Never support activities where animals are exploited or killed such as: using donkeys to carry luggage in Santorini (Greece) or taking photos of cuddling with tigers in Thailand or buy exotic furs from killing endangered animals and so on.
People regardless whether residents or visitors don’t realise the amount of sufferings the animals has to suffer or worse, get killed. Some animals may look well on the outside but (most likely) is hardly taken care of.
Fortunately we can find reliable information from the Internet to know more about the local issues and avoid indirectly hurting animals.
Also at all times, be eco friendly. Even little things can help the environment like: minimise the usage of toilet papers; avoid unnecessarily washing clothes with detergents; use recycled papers as shopping bags and so on.
- Always remember that one represents their country: One person’s or group of people’s bad actions can make an entire country (from where they come from) look bad in the eyes of local people from another country or culture.
Stereotyping/ demonizing/ ostracising happens when the local people from another country or culture considers every resident(s) or visitor(s) from another county as bad because of previous resident(s) or visitor(s) behaving badly or inappropriately (without showing due respect or consideration to the local people).
As such, it is important to remember that we not only represent ourselves and our families but also the country where we come from.
So leaving a good lasting impression with the local people is important as they will think nicely or fondly of the country where we come from and behaves well with the next person that comes from same country that we are from.
Verdict: We are unfortunately in the midst of Corona Virus Pandemic. As such, travelling or living in another country is almost impossible due to different countries travel restrictions relating to the Corona Virus Pandemic.
Yet, there will be many places that one can travel or live nearby; without the need of risking our health or others. All one needs is an open mind.
#Travel #BeMindful #Respect