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How to avoid a culture clash with a different culture

How to avoid a culture clash with a different culture

July 27, 2016
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A culture clash is something that no one wants to go through when they are doing solidarity tourism or volunteering abroad. You may come from a different culture, country, speak another language, eat different things and live in a completely different city and environment, but that won’t necessarily mean you cannot get along with a local inhabitant or feel always uncomfortable.

But what is a cultural clash or cultural shock? According to Dictionary.com, it is a conflict arising from the interaction of people with different cultural values or traditions; it’s like when the west meets the east. Do you want to avoid having a cultural clash with the community you work with? Keep reading this blog and learn how.

 

Meeting a different culture

Every country is different, even if you feel like you are going to a place where they speak the same language as you, slangs will change, food will not be the same, the weather, the way you salute strangers and basically everything can be distinct. So you have to prepare your mind, heart and body for what is coming when you travel abroad, even if it is to another city or if you are planning on going overseas on a volunteering program or solidarity tourism.

 

Avoiding a culture clash

So you have decided to travel, you are ready to meet the world and you are going to a place where English language is not spoken, how can you avoid having a cultural clash? Don’t panic! Breathe and relax… Even if you don’t comprehend with a spoken language, having and using a good body language will help you.

First, have an open mind, not everyone will speak English, especially in Latin America, so you could start by learning some basic words of the language spoken in that country. For example, if you are visiting Guatemala, you may want to learn words like Hola (hello), Mucho gusto (Nice to meet you) Adiós (goodbye), Por favor (please) and probably considered by every traveler as the most important one: ¿dónde está el baño? (Where is the bathroom?).

Then you have to learn some things about that country, the actual name, its capital city, is it very diverse, some traditions; so you are taken off-guard and make a mistake that could make you look rude. For example, if you are going to Morocco, you have to know that there are certain traditions like, not entering the Mosque if your religion is not Islamic. Even in places like Guatemala, some traditions are based on religion so you have to be very respectful.

The third advice we can give you is: be one of the group, try to understand a different culture and enjoy it . Share a plate, talk with strangers, and don’t make offensive comments about the country or someone’s nationality.  You are a visitor, it’s like when you invite someone to your house and they start shading on the way it looks, how messy it is or the way you cook, it’s not ok, so don’t do it!

 

What happens when there is no culture clash?

Everything is normal, you don’t feel left out, you create bonds with the locals and you have this cultural exchange and experience to cherish forever. Especially with a community you are working with and helping, trust us, these will be moments you will always remember so make the most out of it.

 

Travel, enjoy life and live unforgettable experiences!

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