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

 

5 Reasons Why You Should Escape To The Countryside

 

5 reasons why you should escape to the countryside5 reasons why you should travel to the countryside

For me traveling is all about freedom. The freedom to go wherever I want and with as little possessions possible. As a permanent traveler I am always searching for ways to gain more freedom. Recently I have come to believe that a stay in the country will provide me with more freedom. I will give you 5 reasons why you will have more freedom in the countryside.

1. Consumerism

Big cities scream consumerism. Billboards, screens, shops. They are all try to sell you something. However I believe that you do not need most of the advertised products. Better to be influenced by the beauty of nature then by the next commercial for washing powder, which screams at you that you can not live without it.

2. There is always more

In a big city everything is available at any time of the day. Although this certainly can be beneficial, it also causes stress. 24/7 availability means that you always have the opportunity to go out to buy something or to be entertained. You do not learn to be satisfied because there is always that option to purchase more products or have more entertaining experiences.

3. We know what is best for you

Big cities do not only push the consumer ideal through your throat. They are also playgrounds for politicians. Politicians who make great efforts to win peoples hearts, and of course they always now what is best for you. They will take every opportunity to bother you with pushy marketing campaigns and endless pragmatism. Sometimes politicians are useful but more often you just want to escape from them.

4. Busyness

Life never calms down in a city. Traffic jams, rush hours, crying ambulances, screaming video screens. It can be an overwhelming experience to stay in an urban environment. One that will easily make you tired. You do not have much opportunities to enjoy a quiet and serene moment. A moment where you can sit down and watch at the stars or stare at a beautiful sunset, while the day calms down.
Rush hour in Bangkok

5. Safety and crime

Sometimes your perception of freedom can be negatively influenced because you feel unsafe, anxious or even scared. Crime rates are higher in large cities. There are many people living in cities, so there will be less social control. People don’t know each other so they often fear others. This results in less friendliness and care for each other. Living in small countryside communities, where people know and help each other, provides a feeling of companionship and security.

Useful Links

Benefits Of Travel Writing

 

Rooftop terrace Penang - my travel writing office.5 reasons why travel writing is awesome

There are many reasons why travel writing is a great job. I listed some of them in this article. If you are an aspiring travel writer then hopefully these benefits will motivate you to achieve your goal, or you might recognize some of them, if you already out there on the road.

1. Being location independent

Being location independent is one of the reasons why travel writing is so great. Over the years I have had many offices. Imagine the difference in feeling when you are sitting behind a desk in a boring cubicle, or you sit in a tropical bar while being surrounded by mountains and a lush green jungle.

Imagine sitting on the beach under a coconut tree. The waves roll quietly against the sand, a gentle sea breeze is playing with your hair, a gradually fading sun paints red and orange colors on the white clouds, its colorful creation reflected on the infinite ocean. Do I have to motivated you more? This is the main reason why I like travel writing. I still need to work but man the view in my office.

2. Being you own boss


There is nobody who is going to tell me what I need to do. I only need to close down my laptop when I want to to quit working, and then I often have to walk just a few steps till I reach my bed. I choose the time and duration of my breaks and I choose when I want to work. If I don’t want to work, then that is fine as well.

Yes sometimes I have deadlines for my articles, but that is only because I took the tasks. I really don’t have to if I don’t want to. I can choose my own work, and therefore I don’t need to do useless or frustrating tasks. I can not get fired and I also don’t have to dress appropriately. I can just work in my green monkey printed pajama while loudly singing Lady Gaga songs.

3. Great experiences

My most important assets are my experiences. The more exiting my travel experiences are, the more likely I will entertain my readers. Therefore I often go out looking for adventures, and because of my willingness to step into something crazy I usually succeed. I get to see beautiful places or meet extraordinary people. All amazing experiences, and it is great that I am able to document all those moments while travel writing.

4. documenting your live

I am able to document large parts of my live because I often write about my own experiences. Visiting my blog often makes me realize how much memorable things I already did, when I see that large number of posts. Of course without documenting I would have memories as well, but on my blog they become more touchable and visible, in great detail and in large numbers.

Reading my own blog makes me feel more satisfied about my live. Time flies and seemingly unimportant experiences can often been forgotten. Being able to document them is satisfying and gives my live more meaning. Time seems to slow down when I pay attention to details. Being able to remember the details, and not only the large chunks, is important for me. It is one of the reasons why I like to write .

5. Uncomplicated

I will not lie. Travel writing can be difficult. But it also has many benefits. I only need are a laptop and internet. I don’t need an office or expensive machines, and therefore I have a limited amount of taxes to do. I don’t like complicated work. However, as a writer, my main task is getting words onto a screen or a paper. It is not rocket science. Not at all.

What do you like about being a travel writer, or why do you want to become one? 

 

How to Live an Extraordinary Life

Bangkok protest rally stage. There are many ways to get out of your comfort zone. Sometimes you have to compete with fear, embarrassment or laziness. Whatever it is that makes you feel uncomfortable, it will challenge you when you confront it, and when you are challenged your feel stronger emotions. Staying comfortable maybe makes you feel bored, lazy or uninspired, while getting uncomfortable can make you feel exited, trilled or motivated. Now which of those emotions would you prefer?

Is your life boring? Do you lack the energy or motivation to accomplish something? Then challenge yourself to get into uncomfortable situations. Once you have experienced them, and step back in that safe comfort zone, you feel satisfied about what you accomplished. Fear is exchanged for happiness because you confronted your uncomfortable feelings.

What you have to do to become uncomfortable is different for everyone. Sometimes those actions are not scary or challenging. Maybe they are frustrating or annoying, before they become rewarding and exiting. Here are some examples that really changed things for me, when I stepped out of my comfort zone to overcame my discomforts.

Uncomfortable decisions that changed my live

An important challenge for me was to start traveling. At first only for short periods but eventually indefinitely. This was a very uncomfortable and live changing decision. I ditched my job and started working on my uncertain career as a travel writer. I lost my financial comfort and the comfortable feeling of being in my own country. However, it was absolutely worth it. Traveling is an excellent way to step out of your comfort zone.

During my travels I have petted a tiger, driven a motorcycle true Laos, skydived in New Zealand, talked with protesters on a rally stage in Bangkok and belly danced for a tour group in Turkey. All kinds of things that made me very uncomfortable in one way or another. Sometimes I embarrassed myself, sometimes I hurt myself, sometimes I felt totally horrible or even utterly scared and stupid.

But I never regret having experienced those moments, never ever. They made my live more extraordinary and provided me with unforgettable memories. Those memories will keep adding up. When I am old I can lean back and be happy and satisfied because I showed the courage to step outside of my comfort zone, and therefore got rewarded with an exiting live.

What could go wrong?


I often battle with my imagination when I want do something uncomfortable. Then I start thinking about what could go wrong, what people would think of me or what might happen if I fail. But it usually turns out to be completely different and not that bad at all. A lot of times it turned out to be far more exiting and rewarding then I could ever have imagined.

Sometimes getting uncomfortable does not mean jumping out of an airplane or entertaining people on a stage. It also means doing your exercises, even if you feel tired or lazy. It means finishing that article even though you want to watch television or go to bed. It means approaching that person and ask for a date. Think about how those actions can really change your live.

Getting uncomfortable is one of the most important actions I have to take every day. It provides me with motivation because I know the rewarding result. For example as a writer I notice that I am far more exited and motivated to write articles about situations which trilled me. I also enjoy that amazing feeling when I realize I am doing something extraordinary or unusual.

Maybe you feel very uncomfortable at certain moments, but eventually you will be rewarded for your efforts. The people that achieved great things did not get there by staying in their comfort zone. They went that extra mile. They crossed the line. That is what made them great. That is what will make you great.

What was your most rewarding uncomfortable action and how did it change your live?