At this time last year, I was just getting acquainted with my new host mom and my new city of Oviedo, Spain. At that time I had no idea that I would change and grow as much as I did in such a short period of time. Although I lived in Spain, I did not stop myself from taking advantage of the proximity of other European countries. I made my way through Europe visiting fourteen other countries: Portugal, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Romania, Hungary, Turkey, Croatia, Germany, Scotland, Wales, United Kingdom, France, and Italy. This was the first time I experienced cultures that were so different from my American culture, and I fell in love with learning about other people’s way of life.
For me wanderlust has become not only the exciting prospect of seeing “the sights” in foreign countries but embracing the culture as well. The best part about traveling is seeing the world from a local’s perspective (or as close to it as possible). Go to the main sights: the Effile Tower, the Collusem, la Sagrada Familia, Big Ben, but never forget to explore off the beaten track. You will NEVER regret it. The majority of my most memorable moments traveling are from when I took advice from a local hostel employee or cab driver.
If you haven’t yet had the chance to take a long term trip, give it a go! It will change something in you; the way you view others. When you begin to learn the ways of other cultures, it will teach you to be more accepting of individuals who may seem different from you. In reality, we are all people and we only have one world to live in. Why not learn as much as we can from one another in order to build upon what we already have? One of the best ways to learn from one another is to make a whole-hearted effort to learn another culture.
Not only is important to understand one another’s culture, it is important to be open minded and accepting of other ways of life. Yes, Englishmen speak funny to us Americans. Yes, you have to pay to use public restrooms in some countries. Yes, the Spanish are not afraid to show affection in public. (these are just Western examples that I have noticed) but who is to say one culture is superior over another?
So please, be accepting when traveling. Embrace the country you are visiting. Understand that each culture is different, which makes our world such an exciting place. I promise you, if you go to a foreign country with an open-mind, you will be able to enjoy it in its entirety; from the things that are strange to you to the things you endear.