One of the most rewarding aspects of travel is experiencing new cultures. In our experience, this is one of the biggest areas for personal growth that traveling can bring. Experiencing new cultures not only gives you a practical understanding about the world and its history, it will even teach you some things about yourself.
When we say "cultural immersion", we mean the act of integrating oneself into an unfamiliar culture, interacting with people within that culture, and attempting to understand their way of life from that perspective. If you are seeking cultural immersion on your next trip, here are some of our tips.
Stay with a Host Family
One of the simplest ways to experience cultural immersion while traveling is to stay with a host family during your trip. Staying with a host family offers an intimate view of another culture that you just can't experience any other way. Engaging in normal activities together, such as eating dinner or playing a card game, can really make you feel like an extension of the family. Not to mention this is a great way to keep up with your foreign language skills.
Learn the Language
Learning a foreign language is hard work, but it can be especially fulfilling to use your language skills to navigate a new culture. Being able to speak a foreign language (or sometimes even just a few words and phrases) can offer a dramatically different travel experience. If you're looking for an authentic experience off of the tourist circuit, speaking the language is a huge advantage.
It's important to note that cultural immersion is also the easiest way to learn a foreign language. If you are surrounded by people speaking the language, you don't really have a choice except to learn and improve!
Take Public Transportation
Public transportation can be a great way to experience a new place. You learn to navigate your new surroundings from the perspective of the locals. It will help you to understand people's daily routines and maybe you will strike up a conversation or two. It's a big bonus that it's usually the cheapest mode of transportation.
Learn How to Make Local Cuisine
If you love to cook, a great path to cultural immersion is learning to make local cuisine! Most travel destinations have classes, taught by a local chef, that teach you how to make different types of local dishes. Additionally, if you are staying with a host family or if you've made local friends, you could always offer to help make dinner. This is not only an opportunity to learn about various cuisines around the world and how they are prepared, but also a chance to spend time with locals and develop friendships.
Participate in Sports or Group Activities
Participating in group activities, joining a club or playing sports are all amazing opportunities for cultural immersion. You will spend time with members of your host community, learn more about traditions and customs, and people will know a little bit more about you based on what activities you choose. If you're going to be somewhere for an extended trip, seek out some local activities to get involved with while you're there, and even if you'll be there for a shorter while you could always join that pickup soccer game!
Heading out on an extended vacation? Remember every last detail with an Adventure Assist travel notebook.