Sensitivity to Local Culture and its Importance
Traveling is always fun and brings you closer to exciting and rewarding experiences. Apart from helping you get a respite from the regimes of day-to-day life, your trip itinerary introduces you to new cultures, adventure filled activities, cuisines of different regions, unique festivals, different garments and host of cultural differences.
The sounds and smells of varied cultures can often leave you spellbound and asking for more. In certain cases you may feel offended by the differences in gestures and behaviors, while at other times you may be overwhelmed by the warm hospitality and helpful demeanor of the people around you –either way you are a winner, as you end up learning something new.
Whether you are frequent flier to foreign lands or are planning to visit a one-off destination in your next vacation, you need to ask yourself these two important questions before booking your tickets or proceeding to pack in your bags. These questions are:
- Does the local culture of the holiday destination of my choice apply to me in any way, if yes, how?
- Do I need to be sensitive and aware about the customs and beliefs of the locals, if yes, to what extent?(Image by David Roessli)
If you find yourself getting confused and would like to receive further inputs, then it is good idea to get in touch with a native residing in your domestic town/ city and seek his advice on the various etiquettes, manners and customs expected of you on foreign soils. You may also choose to speak directly to the hotel concierge of your destination –he is the best person to educate you on the diversities of culture and mannerisms and provide the right inputs into how you should carry yourself around. Taking outside advice will provide accurate knowledge about what to expect after landing, how to change your own self in line with those around you and yes, understand the differences in your domestic culture and the one prevailing in the place which you desire to visit in the near future.
Proper preparations of your stay in the destination city can be aptly guided by the inputs of local guides and help you understand the whereabouts of the right places to eat, the proper food that may suit your tastes and preferences, the proper dressing sense so as not to offend locals in any manner and so forth. For instance, if you are traveling to Saudi Arabia, then you need to know all the local norms—so as not to fall in trouble with the so called “religious police”. The insights provided by natives are often correct and help you experience the local culture and other bounties with higher awareness.(Image by renbostelaar)
In spite of having a local guide by your side, you may sometimes find yourself getting awed by the local culture and customs being practiced around you. Oft referred to as “culture shock”, this can lead to difficulties in traveling with ease in locations that prove to be very different from your point of origin—as far as adjustments with food, stay, clothing, festivities and other ways of living are concerned. So, steer clear of stereotyping the locals of your destination and be more sensitive to the many differences that come your way –you will not be disappointed!
Feature image by Choo Yut Shing
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