Foreign Habits Worth Adopting

Sunday, May 31, 2015

I wish words could express how much I miss traveling. Or even better, I wish I could travel right now! But as I already said a couple of weeks ago, my staying in one place at the moment is one side of the medal - the other one is saving money, and I like that one way better. After all, I've got a lifetime ahead of me to travel... right? So if you're in the same boat right now, lusting for travel but not going anywhere, you might want to bring the world to you. If Mohammed will not go to the mountain... ;) Here are some great little ways to internationalize your days.

Some people feel that being somewhere for a long(ish) time is better than just visiting, because that way you get to know the world from the locals’ perspective. Some of the things that inevitably happen when traveling is realizing and understanding that a) people are not the same, b) people are the same. How truly different can you be from your peer somewhere in Europe? Chances are you are both in college or working, having a drink in the evening, devoting time to your friends and hobbies. But if you split your daily routines, you could discover strange, funny yet useful habits the other one has. Maybe you’ve never thought of doing those things simply because they’ve never crossed your mind; but you totally could. With these little habits from around the world you can feel so international!

Be healthy like the Chinese.
In China they drink warm water. While this seemed strange to me, my bestie, who’s been living there for some years, has completely adopted this habit, and swears by it. Apparently, drinking warm water makes breathing easier, digestion better, health and hair healthier and more beautiful. Worth giving it a shot!

Be relaxed like an Italian.
In my experience, Italians are the most relaxed people ever – which can be really annoying sometimes. Not knowing how to do a presentation for a class? Running out of money? Having to think of a proposal in three days? An Italian will never seem to worry about anything and have this “oh, it’ll settle” attitude. While I’m not saying you should ditch your responsibilities, we could all use a little bit of this, at least when with other people. No one likes a grumpy face complaining about everything.

Eat your oatmeal like the Finns.
I picked up this one from my former roommates in Finland. There, berry picking is something like a national sport—everyone’s really into it. Now, this is really simple, but I’d never thought of it before. My roommates would put frozen berries into hot oatmeal and kill two birds with one stone: hotness of the porridge melts the hard berries, and the berries cool the oatmeal down. Plus, it’s delicious, and a good way to have your antioxidants in the winter.

Be on time like the Dutch.
Isn’t being on time just plain polite everywhere? Where I come from, it’s OK to be 15 minutes late when meeting a friend; if you’re invited to a party or someone’s home, you’re not really expected to show up like an hour AFTER the said time. So imagine my horror when I was 20 minutes late to a dinner at our professor’s house: everyone was at the table, already having drinks. The Dutch are among the most punctual people I have ever met, and being on time indeed shows respect. This mindset makes you more organized in a long run, and who loves running around in panic when you should have been on your way?

Learn words of a foreign language like the German.
I’ve seen this multiple times: people carrying piles of tiny paper sheets with foreign words written on each. On the train, they pull their piles out of their bags and start memorizing the words. I have noticed that the older I am, the more difficult it is to remember the words when learning a language, so this seems quite appropriate, especially if you spend a lot of time commuting. Sure, you can play a game on your phone, but this way you’re using your time wisely.

Apologize like a Brit.
When my friend first arrived to Scotland, she read in a guide for international students that "in Britain, we say we're sorry even when it's not our fault." It seemed a bit pompous at first, but it turned out to be true. Someone bumped into you? Tried to jump the queue? Just say you're sorry. If that’s not common where you live, they'll likely be confused, but might also realize that it was their fault. You might even share a smile! So rather than casting annoyed looks, say you're sorry: what's the worst thing that could happen?

Be wine-conscious like a Frenchman.
When you think of France, wine and cheese come naturally to your mind, right? However, a French person will never bring a bottle of wine to a dinner. Which makes sense: your hosts have prepared the meals and they know exactly which wines go with the food. So next time you’re visiting someone, you could call and ask which drink to bring. Maybe this could inspire you and your friends to learn about wine-food agreement. (I should definitely do this!)

Special thanks to my international friends who helped in the making of this article. :)

This piece appeared originally on Feather Magazine... but the idea started out as one for the blog. :) Make sure to check other stories on Feather too!

P.S. What solo travel taught me, & an extensive travel wishlist.

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