Live like a local: How to Soak Up Local Culture When Abroad
Contributed by Safrron.Bloom
One of the best things about travelling is that it provides the opportunity to get immersed in another culture. In a foreign country, the usually mundane things are all of a sudden more interesting and exciting. There’s so much of the world to be seen and the more you travel, the more you realise that cultures are incredibly different yet when stripped down to the core we are all more alike than we think.
If you’re visiting a country where you have family or friends, getting an authentic feel for the culture is fairly straightforward. On the other hand, if you don’t know anyone in the country you’re visiting, it’s easy to visit and leave without getting a cultural experience. With that said, here are a few tips to help you get immersed in a foreign culture if you’re visiting a country where you know no one.
1. Stay at an Airbnb
Airbnb is hands down my favourite way to veer off the beaten path and have authentic experiences. Part of their slogan is “experience a city like a local” and staying at an Airbnb really does allow you to do just that.
If you're not familiar with Airbnb, you have the option to rent either an entire house/flat or a room in a house that locals live in. I only opt for properties owned by women or families and in the past, I’ve rented an entire property with the hosts on the same vicinity and I’ve also rented a room. Having the hosts around is very useful. From my experience, I’ve found that it helps a lot if you let them know you want to get an authentic feel of the culture as they’ll try and help with that. It’s not uncommon for hosts to invite you to go to places with them. They provide a great insight into the place you are visiting and are usually very enthusiastic and relish talking to you about their culture and learning about yours.
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2. Take a cooking class
It goes without saying that food plays a crucial part in the culture and taking a cooking class can give you a great taste (pun intended) of the culture. If you’re staying at an Airbnb, your host might be happy to show you how to cook a local dish (sometimes for an extra fee). Depending on the class you take, you can get a nice breakdown of what types of food are usually consumed and when and how they fit into cultural traditions.Once you’ve done a cooking class, go to the supermarket and buy any of the local ingredients to take back with you so you can recreate the recipes at home. Local supermarkets are also a great place to buy local snacks.
3. Take public transport and walk around
As tempting as it is to take a taxi everywhere, as long as public transport is safe it’s usually the better option as it’s more affordable and it forces you to be more familiar with the area since you have to navigate your way around. It’s the same with walking.
Walking around just for the sake of it is great. Serendipity might grace you with its presence. As shocking as it sounds, not everything is on Google and you never know what you may stumble upon; you may meet some locals and end up playing basketball with them. Obviously, exercise caution with who you interact with; there are some kind people out there but not everyone has the best intentions.
How do you get an authentic feel for a culture when you go abroad? Let us know in the comments below. Be sure to check out the other travel bloggers and contributors posts here.