Cultural Adaptation Challenges

Cultural adaptation -  Thai traditional dance– A new look on cultural adaptation –

Many people believe that, when you live in a foreign country, you will never be fully accepted by the locals. Especially in countries with complex and closed cultures, like for example Japan or China. They think that it will always be you and them, no matter how hard you try to blend in.

Having lived in Asia for long periods, I also believed that. But then I read a comment from someone who considered this a weak excuse. He stated that people give up too quick. I started thinking about that opinion, and after a while, the thought slipped into my mind that it could be true. Did I complain too much in the past instead of taking more efforts to really become one of the locals?

Fresh impulses 

A lovely moment. Visit a new country and suddenly there is that feeling of excitement. You experience sounds, tastes, views and smells, which never before made a connection with your brain. You are constantly getting tickled by new sensations. However, the cultural sensations that you experience can quickly become numb if you decide to stay for a longer period. You might experience a stagnation in your cultural adaptation process.

Stagnation

Now that I am back in Thailand for a longer period, I start to notice a decrease in my interest level for its culture. I feel that my interest level reached a certain point and then slowly started to decrease, because the whole experience was not new anymore. Therefore, the longer I am here, the harder it becomes to dive into the Thai culture with 100% motivation.

Once I learned how to get around in Thailand, I basically stopped learning and showing interest. I do not often visit cultural sights anymore. These days I am working at my laptop most of the time. A downgrade for my offline social life. The number of Thai people I met also declined. As well as my excitement to meet them. To keep things short, it was time for a change.

A cultural adaptation boost

I was looking for a deeper cultural experience, as I did not want to have the feeling that I could be anywhere in the world. So I decided to start a cultural adaptation challenge. People say that learning the local language is the best way to bond with a foreign culture. Language is indeed important, but there are other interesting methods as well. So I decided to raise the bar a little higher.

What I want is a 100% involvement with the culture of my guest country. I try to accomplish this challenge by only eating Thai food, watching only Thai movies, reading only Thai books, listening only to Thai music etc. By doing this I will also quickly increase my knowledge of the Thai language, so it is a win win situation. Use this fun method if you find it hard to learn a language.

An amazing journey full of new discoveries

The result of my effort is an amazing journey full of new cultural discoveries. I am now having much deeper cultural experiences because of these discoveries. It is a whole new journey that requires no need for relocation. I like that because I will be stuck in Bangkok for a while. Now I can still travel this country but in a different way. I am making a fascinating cultural journey.

Side note

This challenge is a lifestyle experiment that I created to get out of my comfort zone. However, as it involves everything that I am doing on a daily basis, I find it important that it stays a fun challenge. I am not going to eat food that I do not like or listen to music that I hate, just because it needs to be Thai.

To tackle this problem, I choose Thai equivalents for the things that I already like. For example I like dance music, but it never crossed my mind to start looking for Thai dance music. The same thing counts for Thai books, movies etc. These Thai equivalents make it easier to deal with the difficult challenge of a 100% cultural adaptation. Otherwise, I will quickly return to my old habits again.

Thai statue in Grand Palace

Are you up for the challenge?

Are you interested in (Thai) culture related subjects or do you also want to tackle this challenge? Make sure to read all the upcoming posts about my cultural experiences and discoveries. I will share new discoveries about books, music, movies etc. on my blog, in my newsletter or on any of my social media profiles. So make sure you also sign up to my mailing list, or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

How do you usually try to adapt to a new culture? What methods do you use to make the integration process as smooth as possible? Do you believe you can fully adapt to every new culture? Share your views on this subject, and let me know if you got inspired by my culture challenge.

Useful links

 

300 Days Of Personal Growth

 

300 days abroad. One of those days I traveled with a Thai train 300 days abroad – Accounts of the inner journey 

It is time to make up the balance after being abroad for more then 300 days. However, in this article I want to reflect on the inner journey instead of the actual trip. Where there any spiritual or mental changes during these 300 days? Can I speak of inner growth? Was it a good idea to exchange the safe harbor for an unpredictable sea? Am I happier when I travel or when I stay home?

It is important to reserve some time for reflection during long journeys. At such moments, I advice you to write an overview of your thoughts and experiences. What are the benefits of your current lifestyle, and what are the problems that you encounter? What better way is there then to write it all down. Here are some personal growth lessons, which I gained during my 300 days abroad.

Patience

A traveler needs to learn to be patient. The challenge to be patient provides itself in many forms. For example, traveling often means waiting. At airports, at bus stations, at border crossings, during flights etc. The real challenge starts when you finally arrive at your new destination. Already on boiling point, you often have to deal with all kinds of people that want or need something from you. They can greatly increase the patience challenge.

I did my fair share of waiting and dealing with annoying people (who, at their turn, can be very patient in slow cooking your remaining sanity). I can still be impatient but long term travelling numbs that feeling. You start to accept that it is part of the deal. I say this to myself every time I am about to lose my mind. Sometimes it works, sometimes I end up in a police cell..

More respect for the “smaller” things in life

A roof above your head. A bed under your body. Healthy and rich food on the table. Friends and family members who care about you. A place you can call home. The longer I travel the more I start to realize how important these things are in a person’s life. I might not give them much thoughts when they are present, but I think about them a lot when they are out of reach.

Happiness

I often say it to myself with a slight feeling of disbelief, am I really doing it? Yes, I am really doing it! I am following my dream of traveling around the world and living abroad. It puts a smile on my face every time I think about it. Now I feel really lucky and blessed that I have the opportunity to live this kind of life. I truly appreciate this amazing gift.Me being happy

Appreciation

Trips to less developed and poorer countries always make me appreciate what I have. I am able to travel the world. I have a lot of free time, and I can use that time to do fun things. Not everybody receives those opportunities. I often realize how blessed I am when I see people who have to work for pennies everyday of the week, or really poor beggars who have to live on the street.

I used to nag a lot back home, but really, I have nothing to complain about. I am living an amazing live. However, I try not to brag about it to much. During my travels, I am often confronted with the hardships of less fortunate people. Seeing them suffer made me decide to create charity projects in the countries that I visit. I also try to become a more humble person.

Humbleness

I thought we had to work hard in the Netherlands. That our lives where tough and that we did not earn enough money. I used to open my mouth about those “problems”, and out of my mouth came complaints. In Thailand, I got a much needed lesson in humbleness. Life in the Netherlands was not so bad after all. I learned to listen instead of to talk. To give instead of to take.

Make that inner journey

As you might have noticed, a lot of my inner reflections are focused on confrontations with poverty and the hardships of other people. I guess coming from a “rich” and western country, it can sometimes be a shock and an eye opener to learn about the daily reality on the other side of the world.

Personal growth will emerge from that knowledge. You learn to be humble and appreciate what you have. You learn to care for others and to be more patient. Combine these positive changes with feelings of freedom and you know why you have to make that inner journey. That is why I encourage people to travel and why I will continue to write about it.
 

How did you mentally change while traveling? Which great insights, skills and abilities did you gain during your trip?
 

Useful links

  • Mythic stories and inner growth: A great article from Jonathan Young. How adventure stories and mythic tales show us the important challenges of the journey. During our journey we change and gain knowledge. We leave, learn and eventually return as a wiser person.
  • My charity project: I made it my goal to start a charity project in every country that visit for a longer period. On this page you can read about my current charity efforts in Thailand.
  • Back to the Home Page 

 

The Liebster Blog Award – Why You Should Accept It

My Liebster Blog Award logoWhy you should be happy with the Liebster Blog Award

Recently, I received a nomination for the Liebster Blog Award. I did some research, and I found out that some former nominees did not like to participate in the nomination process. Although this is their good right, I would still like to encourage everyone to accept this price and pass it forward. In this article I will explain why you should always accept the Liebster Blog Award nomination.

The Liebser what?

First let me give you a brief explanation about the Liebster Award. Bloggers will nominate other new blog writers, who, at their turn, pass the love forward again. Some people think it is a sort of chain letter, and that is probably the main reasons why it is not always positively received.

1. Readers get to know you

The person who nominates you will ask some questions about your blog and/or your life. This is a good opportunity to tell your readers a little bit more about yourself. People love to get to know the person behind the articles. Besides that, maybe it is even your first interview. How cool is that!

2. Blog recognition

The one who sends you love will put a link to your blog on his or her website. Same goes for the people who you nominate.This is a part of the procedure. You have to thank the blogger who awarded you. Currently you have to praise five new bloggers after receiving the Liebster Award. So in the best case, there will be six new people who refer to your site.

3. Connecting with other bloggers

Are you usually busy with your own blog? Receiving the Liebster Award is a good incentive to have a look around at the websites of your fellow posters. You have to nominate five new people, so grab that opportunity to discover interesting new blogs. Now you will focus on other writers instead of your own. Maybe you even become a fan of the newly discovered blogs.

4. Credibility indicators

Congratulations!! You received an award for your blog. How amazing is that! Some people do not take the Liebster Blog Award very serious, but there are always others who acknowledge the benefits. Some visitors will trust or admire your blog when they see that it has been nominated for a price. Rewards are nice credibility indicators. People like to see those things.

5. Suport new bloggers

The best aspect of the Liebster Award is that you get to help new bloggers. All these benefits that I mentioned, will be given to them as well. Forget all the negative Nancy’s who say that there is no real reward. These five points are nice benefits. They will hopefully give the newbie a lot of motivation and a jump start into the blogosphere.

How would you respond if you received a Liebster Blog Award. Would you exept it or ignore it, and why?

Useful links

The Liebster Award Nomination

Receiving the Liebster AwardThe Liebster Award nomination 

Bloggers Lindsey and Ash, from Mundo Trundle, where so kind to nominate my blog for The Liebster Award. It is my first blog award nomination and I would like to thank both of them very much for providing it to me. It is an honor 🙂

What is the Liebster Award?

Bloggers can nominate new blogs for the The Liebster Award. The purpose of the award is to promote the websites of those bloggers and learn more about them. Although I do not really qualify as a newbie, I still feel very exited about receiving The Liebster Award 🙂
 
 
 
 

The rules

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you, and include a link to his or her blog.
  • Provide answers to the eleven questions from that person.
  • Give nominations to other bloggers, who have less than 500 Twitter followers.
  • Ask them eleven new questions.
  • Let them know about their nominations, so that they can proceed with the award process. 
  • Jesse Logister Designs

My answers

These are my answers to the questions from Ash and Lindsey:

1. Did you ever visit a country you didn’t like?

No. I never completely dislike a country. There where certain aspects about some destinations that I did not particularly like, but so far there where always other aspects which I enjoyed. Also, good travel companions can make any trip worthwhile.

2. Do you prefer to travel when it is hot and sunny or cold and snowy?

In general I like warm countries. However, now that I am living in Thailand I often miss the rain, changing seasons and snow. For me, the ideal travel situation is a moderate climate.

3. What’s your best travel memory so far (if you can pick just one!)?

That is a difficult question. Over the years I have gathered so many amazing memories. One memorable experience was the road trip I did with my dad in New Zealand. A truly beautiful country. There I had the privilege to jump out of an airplane on a super bright day. An unbelievable adventure, and I am proud that I could experience it.

4. What’s your biggest travel regret?

I do not have many regrets when it comes to traveling, besides from the fact that I did not travel more. However, I can solve that problem in the future. I made many mistakes during my travels, but I learned from all of them. It made me a more experienced traveler and human. So I see my mistakes as blessings.

5. Do you prefer long overland journeys or quick flights? Why?

It depends on the reason why I am traveling. Recently I prefer quick flights, but in the future I would also like to focus on slow and long travel over land. I would like to make some long train journeys for example.

6. What’s your creature comfort when you travel?

Water. Can’t go anywhere without it 🙂 Ah and good walking shoes. I love to walk around a lot and get lost. So the shoes that I am wearing are very important factors for my well being.

7. What’s your first travel memory?

When I was young, me and my family always went camping in France. I miss those times.

8. Have you ever taken a course abroad?

I have followed a diving course in Ko Tao (Thailand) and a first aid instructors course in Bangkok (Thailand).

9. Where are you right now?

At the moment I am in Thailand. Me and my partner Dianna live in an apartment in Bangkok.

10. What do you miss most about home?

My friends and my family. It would be great to see them again and spend time with them. Me and my nephew11. Where are you headed next?

We will most likely move to a Greek island next year. I am really looking forward to that. Greece is a beautiful country with a lot of history.

My nominees:

  • Ultimate Aberration: The blog of stand up comedian Vinay Menon. I choose his blog because Vinay is a great guy, who writes in a very unique and humorous way. I really like his articles and his writing style.
  • Josh Voydik: I met Josh a while ago, when he couchsurfed at my place with his friend Casey. I like the way he looks at live and how he describes his thoughts. I hope he will write more articles 😉
  • ‘Livin’ Pura Vida: I got interested in Christina’s blog after reading her comprehensive post about New Zealand. We both skydived at NZone. I also speak highly of them 🙂 Cristina seems like a very adventurous person and her blog posts are fun to read. She has a bit more then 500 followers, but I guess I can also break the rules a little bit.
  • Travel Tip Girl: Laura also has a bit more followers then 500 but I would still like to nominate her, because I enjoy her writing style.  She is a new blogger who deserves this nomination. I hope she will continue blogging in her own unique way.
  • Worldly View: Brenden Palmer provides useful travel information in his posts. He writes about subjects like: how to do laundry when traveling or how to find cheap flights anywhere in the world. I like to read more of this blogger. A nomination is at its place.

My questions to them:

1. Which travel destination would you recommend to others?
2. What is the most crazy thing you ever did on your travels?
3. What scares you the most about traveling?
4. What motivates you to travel?
5. Which country do you want to live in, if you can choose?
6. Who is the most inspiring person you ever met during your travels, and why?
7. What was the most valuable lesson you have learned during your travels?
8. What is the strangest destination you ever visited?
9. What is your favorite language and why?
10. Who is your favorite travel companion and why?
11. If you had a million dollar travel budget, where would you go?
 

I am exited to read all your answers 🙂