When visiting foreign countries, there are a few main things to look for if you want to immerse yourself in the culture. Especially when you don’t have too much time to spend in a place, there are some quick and easy things you can do to get a peek into that particular place. Go out of your way to experience these four things in the place you are in and you will be sure to leave with a well-developed impression of it.
This one is fairly straight-forward. The history of a place is the most obvious way to get to know it. The founding, conflicts, historic leaders, and more will offer you a deeper understanding of how the place you are in came to be and what role it plays in today’s modern world.
Some places will have a much richer, more extensive history simply because they have been “civilized” for a longer time. You can learn about the history by visiting museums, ancient ruins, castles, and the like, but you can also experience it in your day-to-day wanderings through cobblestoned streets and old buildings. The way a city is constructed and the architecture and resources it has says a lot about the country it is in. Even if you’re not actively looking for the history, it is all around you so make sure to take note of it as it will differ greatly from country to country.
Again, a fairly obvious difference that can be studied intensely or simply observed in your day-to-day interactions. Language provides the tools for humans to communicate with one another and is closely linked to the history of a place. Even if you’re an English speaker and you are travelling in English-speaking countries, you can still notice the subtle differences that the region brings to the language. It is another staple piece of the culture of a place and another easy way to immerse yourself in a new area.
The music of a place is a bit more difficult to come across, unless you are actively seeking it out. But is it another accessible way of interacting with the people, history, language, and culture of a place. Local music, specific to an area, peoples, or region, gives you a glimpse into the artistry and sound of the place you are in. Because music is used as expression, it provides an unmistakable association for a visitor to an area. It’s an often overlooked piece of culture that is easy to miss if you’re not searching for it, but is also very accessible if you are.
The food of a place is arguably one of the most enjoyable experiences a traveller can have while exploring a new country. It is also something that is easily accessible and provides you with another glimpse into the people and history of a place. Food is very often a pillar of culture, a great way to socialise with locals, and also an easy way to access the music of a region, with many restaurants and cafes featuring live music in many places.
While a trip without some or all of these aspects of a culture can still be an enjoyable one, it may give you a limited understanding or view of the place you are in. These four things are easy to come by, usually relatively cheap to experience, and often comprehensive enough to give you a great overall impression of the people and culture you are visiting. Keep these things in mind on your next trip to make sure you get a more fulfilling experience.
Written by: Sonia Motisca