The world contains so many diverse cultures that each have their own languages, traditions, and practices worth exploring and sharing. Taking a vacation to a new location can be great for appreciating certain parts of a different culture, but most of the time it can feel like there is a barrier between you and the experiences you are trying to appreciate. While a vacation can seem like too short of a time frame to immerse yourself into another culture, there are several activities you can take part in that will help you appreciate the people and culture of a certain area more tangibly.
Sports, for the most part, have the same rules regardless of location. If you’re the kind of person that already has an interest in sports, it may be worthwhile to see if your destination has any kind of recreational sports activities that you could participate in for the duration of your stay. Local recreation centers may have classes or activity periods for a sport you enjoy, or you could search social connection apps for anyone in the area who wants to practice with you. Even if you know a sport like the back of your hand, kicking a soccer ball around the Mediterranean beaches with a new friend can prove to help you connect culturally with someone from a different background over something you both already love.
One great way to learn more about a culture is to enroll in a cooking class that centers around the local cuisine. Getting the chance to enjoy the cuisine from a specific place is one thing, but a cooking class will allow you the opportunity to learn about how that food fits into the culture you are exploring from a native of the area. This way, you can learn the recipes and keep that part of the culture with you forever. You can relive the wonderful experience you had abroad as you cook the dishes again and again for yourself and your loved ones.
Connecting to others through art can also forge incredible connections between cultures. You may want to explore events going on in the area you intend to visit to see if there are any art classes available, particularly ones that touch on the region’s specific cultural influence on the artistic world. Visiting art museums can also give you a taste of what artistic ideas a certain location has to offer. Craft fairs are popular in certain areas and may be available as a seasonal event wherever you are traveling, so be sure to stay aware of what is happening during your trip so that you can take advantage of these opportunities and support local artists.
While you may typically think of students as the ones who get the opportunity to partake in cultural exchange programs, there are several ways for adults and graduates to do this as well. You can find a bed and breakfast or another type of lodging service where a native resident allows you to stay in their house (with or without them, depending) for a period of time. Alternatively, you may try to find a host family that can act as your guides during your stay. This allows you to experience certain traditions and functions of a culture from within a household context, in addition to providing you with people who can answer any questions you may have about certain norms, practices, phrases, and other nuances that you may not quite understand.
It is important above all else to remember to be respectful of whatever culture you are learning about. Do not appropriate symbols, traditions, and other sensitive practices that are reserved only for those who are a part of that culture. This can make you seem insensitive and give a poor representation of the country you are representing. When in doubt, it is always best to ask a native of that culture what is considered acceptable and what you may want to avoid.