Okay. So you have decided to take the step and go traveling. Perhaps it´s just your neighboring country. Maybe it´s on the other side of the world. In any case, you step out of your preferred mode of transportation and within minutes you experience your first culture shocks. This is where you have to make a choice. Either you filter everything through your own country´s norms and rules or you approach it with an open mind.
This might sound obvious to you, especially if you have traveled before. Throughout my travels however I have encountered many people who seem to have forgotten this very important lesson. Who view every new experience with vary or judgmental eyes. It´s interesting how two people traveling together can have such different journeys.
Of course there are some things that don´t make sense. Like us Swedes for example, during our midsummer celebrations, imitating frogs around a giant flower embellished penis. (In broad daylight may I add) But do you stand on the side lines and shake your head in embarrassment or do you go Viking and join the fun? An open mind could lead to the most wicked part of your travels.
What if you go to a country where child marriage is legal, where women and LGBTQ people are oppressed? Things that are not anywhere near okay in my book. What do you do? Do you tell them it´s wrong? Did it work? Probably not. It´s not very surprising. Here you come, a person from a different world, condemning practices that might have existed for thousands of years. It isn´t until you show an interest in to knowing where they are coming from and remove your judgmental stare that you can have an open and honest discussion. This is how you evoke change, if only for one person. It is easier to accept the views of an equal rather than the views of someone looking down at you from a pedestal.
In the end I think it is important to remember that foreign countries are not designed to make you feel comfortable, they are designed to make their own people feel comfortable. So travel with an open mind and an open heart. It can make the difference between a good trip and the best experience of your life.