This blog was submitted by: Andy Steves.
The highlight of any trip comes from the experience of connecting with others from different backgrounds that you meet while on your travels. It’s so easy to just stay in the British bubble, and it is just that much more rewarding to break out of it. The British Bubble provides comfort in an otherwise strange environment, yet prevents you from experiencing the country you’ve chosen to visit to the fullest.
You’d be amazed to find that though people may be different on a surface level, ultimately they are exactly like yourself. Ask about where they go on a Saturday night, what their views on politics are, how they celebrate holidays, where they want to live when they “grow up,” etc. It’s these types of connections that can bring the world closer together, and it’s this kind of cultural understanding that can make positive differences for our future.
Here are some tips to bridge those cultural gaps:
Be open to anything
In my experience, simply saying “yes” to things I haven’t tried before, or to things that are outside of my comfort zone always lead to some unforgettable memories. There is of course a line that should never be crossed, but in general, being a yes man for the day (or night) can be really fun. Never had raw herring before? Try it in Amsterdam. Shy? Chat up that random person next you in the bar–what’s the worst that could happen? Do as the Berliner’s do and stay out ‘til sunrise. In short, expose yourself to new experiences that are exactly the opposite of what you might do at home. You won’t regret it!
Bring your passions with your passport
Keep your hobbies, passions and interests in mind while you travel, whatever they may be! Whether it’s music events, art, food, cycling, beaches, festivals, etc., Google any events relevant to your preferences early in your trip planning process. When you pursue your interests, you’ve automatically customized your travel in a very cost-effective way. Plus, this puts you in the same time and place as others who share that same interest. From there, it’s already much easier to make a connection.
Live like a local
Take advantage of every opportunity to learn something about each place you visit while abroad. Be curious about the culture you’re in, and ask locals questions that will tell you more about their country and their history. Take the time to learn about what’s important in pop culture before you go. Locals will appreciate your interest, and they are sure to have questions for you as well. While you’re in Prague, ask a local what they think of their new president. Traveling to Denmark? Ask someone how socialism actually works for them. Ask an Italian what they think of American “Italian” food. Taking back knowledge from other cultures and sharing about your own culture is what humanizes a group of people, and will positively affect future generations of people in our struggle for global understanding.
Hint: Still looking to connect with other travelers? Tinder, Bumble and Happn work all around the world, too. These apps are actually a popular tool, especially for travelers just looking for friendship abroad. Thanks.
This blog was submitted by WSA Europe, Andy Steves’ top-rated tour company for students abroad in Europe.