Living Like a Local

When visiting another country, it can be tempting try to see it all in one trip – an exhausting way to travel. Rushing from place to place to try to experience a new culture, taste the food, enjoy the art, and see every architectural wonder can cause you to miss out on the real experience. 

Rather than planning this kind of trip, it can be so much more fun to give yourself time to relax, sit back, watch the world go by from a sidewalk café, wander an outdoor market, window shop, and discover something unexpected all on your own. It is incredible what you can find when you are away from the throngs of tourists flooding areas with their cameras and phones. 

Waking up in a new city with a walk to discover your new favorite coffee bar is a great start to an adventure. Take the time to sit down, watch and listen to the locals and absorb the local customs. Some cultures are openly friendly, and others more reserved. In Denmark, you may need several days of buying your morning coffee before you rate a welcoming smile, but in Italy, you are a friend within seconds. 

Once you have enjoyed your morning tea or coffee, meandering through the local can lead to the discovery of unique local shops on the side streets and less-traveled boulevards. I love to relax, wander, and immerse myself in the local culture. Stopping for lunch in an unknown café, where the locals meet can be memorable, whether visiting Italy, France, England, Switzerland, or the other countries on my list of favorites. 

When in Rome…

The old saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” is good advice – but did you know that this saying goes back a long, long way? Its origins can be traced to the 4th century AD, attributed to Saint Ambrose, who gave his friend Saint Augustine some good advice. 

Saint Augustine had taken a new job in Milan and his new church had some big differences from his former church in Rome. The meaning of the saying, is of course, when visiting another country, being aware of the customs of the area is wise, and means adapting your actions, appearance, and demeanor to the culture, rather than standing out as an obvious outsider. 

English? Maybe, Maybe Not.

Although many countries teach English, with lots of locals speaking the language a little, we have the advantage of smart phones that can translate for us. The locals appreciate efforts to speak their language (although they may smile or even laugh at how we pronounce it). I like to do my best to try to speak the language as much as possible. 

The Tourists Other Cultures Love

Many countries depend on tourism for the population to prosper. The people of the country work at many jobs that serve the tourism industry, including hotels, restaurants, bars, guides, car rentals, and the list goes on. When visiting another country, supporting the local economy helps the people of the area survive. No matter what rumors you may hear about American tourists, you will be welcomed if you are respectful, do your best to use the language however you can, and show respect the local customs – and they are easy to find online. A little study ahead of time can inform you of the do’s and don’ts, which are well worth knowing – after all, we have cultural rules in our country too! 

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