This is a quote by Mason Cooley that I just love! It’s one of those quotes that just jumps out at you because it’s so true yet it’s something that people do not even realize they are doing. Think about it…you’re in a foreign culture, maybe they dress in traditional clothing, hold a different belief system, or maybe they have reversed gender roles. There could be customs you are not used to, such as greeting others with a wai (a small bow), such as in South East Asia, or maybe they have different cultural icons, such as Father Frost instead of Santa Claus in Russia.You get the idea. My point is, when most travelers see these “unusual” traditions for the first time, they think just that, that they are unusual. However, in reality, they are only unusual to you because you are the foreigner.
Of course, this is easier said than done. What travelers really should aim to do, however, is tweak their mindset a bit. Instead of going into a foreign culture being scared of how “weird” it will be, become open to new ideas and think about why these people might do the things they do. Maybe it will take learning a bit of the history of a place or engaging with locals, both of which will only broaden and enhance your experience. Educate yourself as much as you can with firsthand experience and realize that each culture is unique in its own way and for its own reasons.
And remember, your culture is just as foreign to them and theirs is to you.