Sometimes cultural differences are seen in the stark differences you notice as soon as you get off the plane. People that look different than you. The polluted sky. The crowded streets. The staring at your fair skin and light hair. Or maybe it is in the tasks of daily life that you feel it. The pipes letting off the smell of gas when you open your cupboard to get dishes for dinner. Or when the water is turned off again in your apartment without prior notice (or at least you couldn’t read the sign). Or when you go to buy veggies and fruit at the store and have to fight for your place in line to get the produce weighed.
A couple of weeks ago, I felt like the cultural differences were fighting me at every point of the day. Then, my husband and I decided to go for a bike ride and we found an area of our city we had never been to. Just seeing a new part of town was like a breath of fresh air. I found myself enjoying our city more and my eyes were opened to how much I really do enjoy this place we call home.
That day on our bike ride, I was reminded of something very important. Getting outside into the midst of the culture and doing something you enjoy is what best cures culture shock, not staying at home. Sometimes we get so bogged down by the negative aspects of the culture we live in that we are are blinded to any positive in it. That day, I was reminded of the friendliness of our local friends who want to help us with anything we need at any moment. The store clerks and taxi drivers who are delighted when we just try to speak in their language and don’t yell at us for not pronouncing everything correctly.
Wherever you live in this world, take heart. Living life in another country isn’t always a picnic, but it is something that can be embraced and enjoyed when we look outside the struggle and try to see the beauty. Go try something new!
Here are some ideas for getting out of your home and engaging with your host city in a new way.
- – Do the “tourist” thing in your host town, even if it isn’t a foreign tourism experience.
- – Take a mode of transportation that is unusual.
- – Find a new part of town to explore.
- – Go to a new restaurant.
- – Try a new street food.
- – Go to a local sporting event.
- – Go GeoCaching.
- – Let your kids decide an activity. (They are way more creative than we are.)
- – Get out in nature.
- – Participate in a local custom.
- – Go to a local festival.
- – Dig into local history.
- – Ask your neighbors to an outing and let them suggest where to go.
- – Do a stay-cation.
- – Go out at a different part of the day like sunrise or sunset.
What are your suggestions? Tell us all your ideas for battling those bad culture days!