If you plan to visit another country, it’s important to know what customs are common in that region.
In some parts of the world, the risk of culture shock can be great, so it would be helpful to acquire some cultural competence before going abroad.
I’ve traveled and lived abroad for over 20 years. I know it can be difficult to know what research you should do because there’s so much to prepare for, especially if you’re going abroad for the first time.
This article should help you get started!
Traveling Improves Your Understanding of Different Cultures
Traveling opens up a world of opportunities for you. You can see new sights, learn new languages, and learn about other cultures and different backgrounds. If you want to be well-traveled, it’s important to consider a few things before you head out.
Whether you’re traveling to another country or state, it’s very important that you’re open-minded and willing to learn about the culture and history of another place.
Trying to understand different cultures isn’t always easy for many people, but you’ll find that it’ll help you in your travels and everyday life. You’ll be surprised how much more interesting life becomes when you start to understand other cultures.
5 Things You Should Know About a Country Before You Visit It
The most basic information can be found on the Internet if you don’t have much time to read books about it. Knowing a little is always better than knowing nothing. It’s best to start with official websites, such as those of the government, or registered travel agencies can also be helpful.
When traveling to a foreign country, one of the most important things you need to know is the history of the country.
The history of the place you’re visiting can help you understand many things, from local customs to current issues and how they came to be.
It also ensures that your trip is well-rounded and eventful, as it makes you curious to visit the right places.
When you’re visiting a different culture, it’s important to know something about the country’s politics and how to find out about them.
I’m not a political expert, but I always do some research before going abroad. For example, if an area is politically unstable, knowing about it helps me choose the best route to take to avoid getting in trouble.
It’s also helpful to look at how the country’s political system works, who’s in charge, and what that person’s responsibilities are.
Find out who the current leader of the country is, what political party he/she belongs to, how long he/she’s been in power, and how much power he/she’s.
You should also find out if the country is a democracy or a dictatorship.
This information is important because if you’re visiting a country ruled by a dictatorship, you may need to be more careful when communicating about certain topics with the locals. This isn’t only for your own protection, but also for the protection of the locals you’re dealing with.
The most important thing isn’t that you join or talk about a cultural exchange, but that you learn more about your host country before you land.
There are a few reasons why it’s important to know the religion of a country when you visit.
Knowing about the religion of your host culture can help you understand the country’s history and traditions.
For example, Christmas for most Christians isn’t just a matter of celebration and vacation, but also a religious belief. When I spent Christmas in Fiji many years ago, the most important thing about Christmas Day wasn’t the food or the celebration, but the hour-long church service. Although Christianity isn’t part of Fijian heritage and wasn’t introduced to Fiji until 1830, celebrating Christmas is now a belief and tradition for them.
If you know the religion(s) and belief(s) of a country, you can also better understand the local culture and cultural appropriation and get a better picture of the cultural identity of the country and its various different communities.
There are a number of important reasons why it’s important to know the geography of your host country.
The best culture shock for me when traveling is the scenery, the architecture, and all the people of different cultural backgrounds and their cultural heritage. When I first traveled in 1997, before I used the Internet, I used Lonely Planet as a pocket guidebook and often read National Geographic, which I found helpful in choosing my destination. Nowadays you can find Lonely Planet, National Geographic, and many other sites online.
Another reason to learn about the geography of your host country is safety.
Some areas may have more risks of natural disasters, depending on when you’re traveling. Also knowing what other countries are in the area can help you understand how they interact politically.
In the Middle East, for example, there may be some persistent areas of conflict. In Latin American countries, there may be conflicts between different communities.
If you’re traveling to North America and you’re African American, there may still be areas where people of African American descent may be at risk because of their ethnicity.
Not all countries have a good public transportation system, but if they do and you want to travel that way, it’s even more important to know the geography of the area so you know approximately how long your journey will take.
When you’re out and about in cities, you should have a map on your phone (as an app) so you can find your way around on it.
5. Important Dates
Each country has its own history and culture, which are reflected in many ways. There are quite a few holidays and traditions that are celebrated all over the world.
Knowing these dates in advance will help you organize your trip and make it more interesting.
Pay attention to election dates, vacations and vacation periods, religious and cultural festivals.
Benefits of Cultural Diversity and Cultural Awareness
Getting to know a new culture can help you understand other people better and make you more open to new things. You may think you already know so much about the world and its people, but you’ll be surprised that there are things you didn’t know before.
You’ll develop a better understanding of yourself. When you travel, you get to know yourself better. You’ll learn more about your likes and dislikes as you experience different things and places during your travels. Experiencing different cultures helps you realize that life has a lot more to offer than what you’re used to.
Learning about a new culture can help you see the world from a completely different perspective, and you may even return a different person than you were before you left.
11 Tips on How to Respect a New Culture When You Travel
Every country has its own cultural identity, its local culture, and its own way of seeing the world.
You’ll never know every single cultural norm and way of thinking of your host culture, but you can at least learn from those who’ve studied and written about the cultural heritage of your host culture.
Here are some tips on what you should research.
1. Cultural Background
Cultural background is the set of shared values and assumptions that are part of a human group. It includes the knowledge and skills needed to survive and thrive in a particular environment such as a family, community, or society.
It’s important to know the cultural background of your host country understand better the culture and customs of the new people you meet there. You can also avoid making embarrassing mistakes or causing offense by misunderstanding local customs and ways of life.
When you travel to another country, you may try to fit in with the crowd. However, you won’t know how the locals interpret certain hand gestures, body language, or sayings. You don’t want to offend anyone while you’re in the new country.
In some countries, colors can also have a meaning, for example, red can mean good luck in one country and bad luck in another. Black can mean you’re going to a funeral, while in a different culture it represents elegance.
In some cultures, leaving food on your plate because you’ve eaten enough is a compliment, while in others it’s a lack of respect.
Do your research. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when traveling abroad.
Educate yourself on what people say and how they react to others. This way you can save yourself the trouble with the locals and enjoy your time abroad!
When you travel to a foreign country, it’s important that you know the traditions of the people there. If you don’t follow the traditions of the country, it can have consequences for yourself or for your host.
Each host culture has its own idea of what “cultural norm” means.
For example, in some countries, it’s not appropriate to touch someone’s head and it’s disrespectful to do so. Or if you meet a Native American when traveling in North America, you should think twice before mentioning the exploitation of certain plants and animals that may be sacred to them.
It can be quite intimidating to visit a foreign country whose language you don’t speak.
There are many different ways you can try to communicate with someone if you don’t know their language.
Just a smile and a friendly attitude can go a long way toward making friends with someone, even if you don’t know what they’re saying.
You should also write down or memorize some words (eg: greetings) before you travel.
Some of the new people you meet may want to practice their English with a native speaker, so don’t worry if they don’t answer in their native language, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn their language.
Even if you don’t have the opportunity to practice much, learning the language when you’ve time can give you more insight into the culture, and the locals will probably appreciate it if you know at least the basics of their language (e.g., greetings, thank-you, etc.).
5. Ethnic Groups
Ethnicity refers to shared cultural heritage, ancestry, and how we identify ourselves, while nationality is defined by nation.
In Kenya, for example, there are over 70 different ethnic groups in Kenya.
Each ethnic group (or tribe) has its own traditions and customs that are distinctly different from others in the country; these different cultural backgrounds have been passed down from one generation to the next for centuries and have become characteristics of each group.
Traveling outside of your home country can be a great experience, but you should know what ethnic groups exist in the country you plan to visit so you can show respect and avoid getting into trouble.
It’s important to know about the ethnic groups of your destination country because when you visit a country, you need to know its culture and customs. This way you can adapt to the environment and get along with the local people.
A country’s ethnic groups make up its society.
Travelers should be aware of how different ethnic groups interact with each other and how they’re perceived by others. If you know about the ethnic groups in your destination country, you’ll also be better able to interact with them and make them feel that you’re a friend.
6. Sexual Orientation
In Europe, North America, some Latin American countries, and more – LGBT is accepted as a gender cultural identity. It’s important to be aware that some parts of the world where have limited or highly restrictive rights.
7. Social classes
Social classes are groups of people who’ve similar levels of wealth, income, power, and prestige.
They can be based on their income, cultural factors, or a combination of both.
In the Western world, class is sometimes defined by profession – think of the old saying that doctors and lawyers are rich. Other factors can also play a role: family background, level of education, and so on.
Being aware of social classes isn’t the same as discriminating against people. In fact, it can be helpful to know how to behave toward people from other social classes.
For example, in some Asian countries, the richest person should pay for everyone when they go out to eat together. This is a sign of respect and a way to show that you know your place in society.
Social class is part of the relationships between people. In some societies, social class is almost as important as gender, ethnicity, or age.
8. Dress Norms
Dress norms are important when you travel to a new place; sometimes they’re even more important than the language you speak. Therefore, it’s very important to learn about the dress codes in a foreign country before you visit.
In some cultures, it’s required that women wear long skirts or dresses in public.
These rules can be strictly enforced; sometimes police can even take violators into custody. Dress codes are important when traveling so you don’t embarrass yourself by wearing something that doesn’t fit the destination.
Food also reflects culture and tradition.
Therefore, when you travel, you should try to familiarize yourself with the local eating habits. There are many interesting food habits around the world that might surprise you.
Each country has its own specialties.
If you’re invited by locals, you should learn about the local food habits, because there may be things you can’t eat or are allergic to. If you’re offering food to a local, you need to know what you can and cannot offer them and when, because sometimes food can have meaning.
10. Art & Music
Art and music are part of every culture. Even if you aren’t an art or music lover, it can be helpful to know a little about these subjects when you travel.
Art is one of the best ways to learn about a culture. Many works of art have spiritual or historical or significance, making them a great way to gain insight into a country’s beliefs and history.
A country’s art often reflects social conditions as well, so it can give you insight into how people live and see themselves.
If you’re interested in art, you should try to visit the main museums in the region you’re visiting. If you’ve time, go along and see the exhibitions.
You may be surprised at how much you like it, but you don’t have to like everything you see!
Music is another great way to learn more about a place.
It’s also worth asking what traditional music is popular in the area – that can tell you something about local traditions.
If there’s live music playing during your visit, you should try to attend a concert or festival – this is the best way to get into the skin of the locals, and if you don’t like live music, you can just listen to the local radio.
You might be thinking why on earth you should care about celebrities when you’re traveling. It’s not like they can help you with anything on your trip, right?
Celebrities are role models and can have a huge impact on the country of your destination. You can call it positive, negative or neutral, but they’re role models for many and people look up to them.
Talking about celebrities can open up a long conversation with locals and is usually safer territory than talking about politics or religion.
When you travel for business, it’s important to know the local corporate culture. Corporate cultures are different in every country, and if you don’t know yours, you could end up looking foolish or offending the people you meet along the way.
This is especially important when you meet people at networking events or conferences. You need to be able to talk about their culture and business practices to get them interested in you and your business if you want to build a good relationship with them and open doors for future partnerships.
Here are some ways you can learn about the company culture before you go.
5 Examples of Cultural Differences in Corporate Culture
Some cultures take a more direct approach, while others take a longer route.
All cultures have their own social norms and a different perspective of cultural exchange.
If you’ve good cultural awareness, you can avoid offending a person who might feel offended by your own local culture.
In many countries, it’s still common for everyone to come to work in a suit and tie or dress. So you might be surprised if you show up in casual clothes.
Find out what’s customary attire beforehand and plan your wardrobe accordingly so you don’t stand out.
However, in some company cultures, such as Silicon Valley, it might be best to show up dressed casually.
Lunch varies from country to country:
in France, a business lunch is likely to involve sitting in a restaurant for two hours, while in the U.S. it’s not uncommon to eat lunch at your desk or in your car if you’re pressed for time.
In other cultures, the business lunch may be taken in the company canteens, where employees can buy their lunch at a discounted price, or even street food.
If you plan to decline an invitation to lunch or dinner without giving a reason, you should learn about the local culture. Sometimes the most important decisions in business negotiations are made there.
In some countries, drinking alcohol may be part of the business conversation (wine in France, soju in South Korea, etc.), while in others, drinking alcohol isn’t an option and tea or other non-alcoholic beverages are served at the table instead.
Observe as Much as You Can and Be Open to Cultural Diversity
In my 20+ years of experience, I’ve worked with over 100 nationalities and I wouldn’t even know how many ethnicities!
You can learn a lot before traveling to another country, but the best way to learn about the culture and heritage is to spend time with a local person and observe as much as you can.
If you don’t speak the language, don’t worry, you’ll learn much more by observing actions and body language than by speaking.
The most important thing is to accept that everyone has a different way of doing things and a different perspective on the world around them. Open-mindedness will take you far!