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10 Things To Do To Make The Most Of Your Travels

Here are 10 simple things you need to do to immerse yourself deeply in a foreign culture while traveling abroad.

1.Read up on the history

Homework is simply an important aspect of planning a trip abroad. The amount of extensive effort you put into gathering information, the more you will know when you reach there. Learning about the major historical events which occurred in that particular area will help you learn why the locals have certain political and religious. If you are going to Spain, to example, reading up on the Spanish Civil War will help you see the massive impact it had on the ideologies of the people and explain the intense rivalry between Barcelona and Madrid.

Read about historical monuments in that area

Read about historical monuments in the area

2. Learn the language

This might be very difficult but it is essential to make an effort in this area. Learning the basics of the language will help you gain special favours from locals (you might find out about secret hangout spots other tourists are unaware of) and can give you a deep understanding into the psyche of the country as a whole. Also, depending on how much of the language you learn, watching Godard films without needing subtitles is definitely a major achievement.

3. Try cooking food from the local cuisine

Once you visit a new country, trying local foods in crowded restaurants frequented by the locals is a must. Going to a Michelin Stared restaurant and eating delicacies made by international chefs should also be on your bucket list depending on your finances. But while you are still in your house or dorm try making simple recipes such a tiramisu in a coffee cup if you are visiting Italy or making mini-baklavas.

4. Learn a typical hobby from that area

We all go on vacations and buy gifts for our friends but while buying intricate hand fans in Seville for your Grandmother is a must, she will also be equally impressed if you show her a routine of flamenco that you learned. You don’t have to be a professional, just watch some videos on YouTube to down the basics and then when you finally reach there you can dazzle the locals and gain some more friends.

5. Also learn something that people from only that area know.

It doesn’t have to be a very popular or majorly followed activity but it should be something unique. You can learn to dance the samba anywhere; you don’t have to go to Rio de Janeiro for that! But if you are going to some place learn something small but intimate. Learn some ancient Chinese folk-tales in Hong Kong or how to make rice cakes wrapped in coconut leaves in Vietnam, these are small things but it is not something anyone can learn anywhere.

Decide every detail of your travel

6. Do your research

The more you know about something, the more you realize how much you don’t know. Every street in England has witnessed some history, every bar in Dublin was visited by at least one literary genius- you research can help you find out hidden gems around the area. You can arrive and visit the areas your guide takes you too, but your research will help you find things that are below the surface and will help you decide which places you do not want to miss.

7. Plan extensively

If you do some dedicated research planning become very easy. Simply jot down the places that you do not want to miss under any circumstances and make it a point. Are there any haunted or abandoned buildings you want to photograph? Do you want to try that fish that, if cooked incorrectly, can poison you? Do you want to visit the same pub that Charles Dickens went to while writing ‘Great Expectations’? Plan all of the smallest details and then you can have a wonderful adventure!  Mixing your planning with flexibility will ensure you can get the most out of each day.

8. Ask your teachers while on study abroad

They are the walking-talking encyclopedias who are not intimidating to they talk about the things they are passionate about. They will be overjoyed to oblige. Who doesn’t like talking about their city and country? If you are visiting Paris, ask them about the mystery behind Mona Lisa’s identity. If you are going to the Vatican, ask them about Bernini’s theologically prominent sculpting.

Your teachers are the ultimate source of information

Your teachers are a useful source of information.

9. Immerse yourself in their literature

The only way to pretend that you are already in New Zealand is if you read books that are based in New Zealand. Don’t just read the books that are best sellers, read the stuff that the locals grew up reading. If you are going to London, acquainting yourself with the vast universe of Shakespeare is a must. If you are going to France, read up on some biographies of Marie Antoinette.

10. Do not ignore the effect of religion

Religion may not be your cup of tea but we cannot neglect the influence that religion has had on shaping civilization. Read about the Blue Mosque if you are going to Istanbul or a Buddhist monastery if you are trekking in Nepal. It will tell you what makes the locals sensitive and gives them strength.

If you are genuinely passionate about travelling, it will be very easy for you to jump head-on into unfamiliar culture. But even if you don’t follow the above travel tips due to time constraints and end up going on vacation tomorrow without any preparation- remember to keep an open mind. You can make the most of your once-in-a-lifetime experience if you admire the culture, even if you don’t agree with it.

Purva Indulkar

K.P.B. Hinduja College, Mumbai | 10 stories

Purva Indulkar is a student of Mass Communications in Mumbai, India. She is a voracious reader, amateur writer, aspiring journalist, movie fanatic, proud foodie and a curious traveller. Not all those who wander are lost :)

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