The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.
Vancouver, BC (PRWEB) August 27, 2013
Many international travelers seek tours with cultural immersion opportunities. The success of any immersion experience, however, also depends greatly on the mindsets of the travelers themselves. The cultural experience will be more eye-opening and enriching if travelers approach their trip with the right attitude and take the proper steps towards the goal of cross-cultural understanding. Cross-Continental Solutions has recently released important tips for successful cultural immersion abroad.
First of all, it is important to pick the right travel program. Compared to regular tours, cultural adventures and volunteer abroad programs usually offer greater cultural immersion opportunities for travelers who want to see the world through another culture's eyes. Travelers can gain a much broader worldview by living in a different culture and embracing it. However, different international programs may offer very different levels of cultural enrichment, different degrees of flexibility, and different costs. Thus, it is important to pick a program that fits the traveler's interests and needs.
After choosing the right program, travelers should take some time to mentally prepare for their encounter so that they may experience their journey as an enriching cultural exchange, rather than culture shock. Before the trip, it is advisable for travelers to do the following preparations:
- Adopt a curious mind-set, a good learning attitude, and an adventurous spirit. Keep an open mind and be respectful of differences, and above all be adaptable.
- Learn and research the culture before departure. Thanks to the internet, all this information is only a few keystrokes away. When doing online research, seek out current news, social and economic development status, prominent religions, cultural norms, gender roles, education, ethics, and the history of the country--what they are proud of, what they have endured, etc. Not only will this prepare travelers for what they should expect in the foreign land, but it will also enhance local interactions as the indigenous people will appreciate the traveler's effort to learn their ways.
Once travelers arrive at their destinations, they should adopt a few behaviors to get the most out of their cultural immersion experience:
- Make an effort to make friends with the locals, instead of just hanging out with other travelers.
- Do not only visit popular tourism sites; ask local people where they go for entertainment and join them.
- Try to engage a wide variety of people. Converse with both young and old alike, ask questions, listen, and show interest in what they have to say. When encountered with different opinions or ways of thinking, try to understand their reasoning instead of being judgmental.
- Avoid intense debates, especially when it concerns delicate topics such as religion and politics. One careless word is all it takes to accidentally offend the very ones the travelers are there to learn from.
- Travelers can also use humor to lighten up the mood. Many locals may feel shy towards foreigners at first, but can quickly open up if the traveler uses humor or engages them in their local language.
Many westerners travel abroad only to find themselves hanging out with other westerners. While it is nice to share one’s experience with like-minded individuals, it is also worth the effort for travelers to make local friends in order to promote cross-cultural understanding. Going out of one's comfort zone can be intimidating at times, but it can also be very exciting. The key is to approach the experience with the right attitude. Stay open-minded and be respectful so that the whole volunteer abroad experience will make friendships and memories that last a lifetime.
A wise man once said, "The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see." A major advantage of joining international internships or volunteer abroad programs, rather than typical travel tours, is the opportunity for much deeper local interactions. Volunteer travelers shouldn’t take such opportunities for granted, but make every effort to get the most out of them. With an adventurous spirit and a good learning attitude, travelers can come home with a great new understanding and appreciation for another piece of the world. Explore the options or plan a life-changing trip at http://www.CrossContinental.org.
About Cross-Continental Solutions:
Cross-Continental Solutions provides flexible yet affordable volunteer abroad, intern abroad, cultural immersion, language study, and gap year programs. Many college students take international internships for school credit. It is unique in that participants live and work side by side with the locals, thereby offering an exceptional cross-cultural experience for those who wish to make a difference. Programs are available at many locations around the world, including Africa, Asia, and Latin America.