Written by Desiree Maas // Photos by Brian Wu & Ana Kamin
Traveling can commonly be an excuse to escape the normalcy of life or a reason to get away from the familiar to explore the unknown. What many seldom think about is the familiar lives that await us at every destination. It is important to feel the exhilarating feels of venturing a new land, but it is equally important to educate ones self on the culture, lifestyle and norm of the people in the place you are visiting. Just like there are manors that come when you are invited over to someone’s home, there is a proper etiquette that comes when visiting a new country or city, because to the people living there, you are visiting their home.
There are countless joys in taking the time to experience a culture unfamiliar to you. As we learn together, remember to keep an open mind and use these tips when embarking to your adventure.
Culture is defined as, “the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group.” Culture can be seen in the creativity, handy works, expressions, characteristics and personality of a people. The beauty of culture is a unique way of life that individuals live. To many these are the only ways of life that they know and to others this is a mere expression of the many diversities in the world. It can be represented through various mediums, forms of art and architecture, through politics and languages, through food and leisure time. Culture is an ever-present yet constantly evolving phenomenon that we have the privilege to learn.
The benefits. Not only are you taking the first step in befriending a cultured people, you are traveling to a place that is beyond seasonal change, you are entering an entirely different world. The rituals and laws of a culture is special to the people who live by them and when you take the time to learn their ways, you are telling them that the way they live is more then just a lifestyle, but an expression that makes the world we live in unique and you are willing student.
We learn a new way of doing things when we stop and observe our surroundings. You never know what new techniques will enhance your life entirely. It is just like learning from a new friend. There are so many important acts in culture from understanding the meaning of Taarof as an Iranian practice, the gesture of Pagmamano in the Philippians and Malaysia, the unspoken expectations of arrival time in South America, the proper etiquette of drinking in Russia, to the different traditions of the Tooth Fairy in Denmark, Greece, Jamaica and Mauritania. You never know when you may want to start or share in new traditions. Culture is a beautiful piece of life. Even if you never use the techniques that others do, you can be sure that your worldview will be broadened from the studies of a new place. So take the time to research the cultures in the world and make a point to interact with the people in other countries and show them how much their way of living is appreciated.
For the dreamer - For the adventurer