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Taking a culture on its own terms

When travelling to distant and exotic locales, we are constantly confronted by different, exotic, and sometimes disturbing and challenging situations and experiences. These experiences are a big part of what makes travel such an adventure, and they are the catalyst for opening our minds and broadening our own personal horizons and perspectives. When situations arise that disturb us or make us uncomfortable, it is very important to force ourselves to suspend judgement based upon our own experience and culture. Often times, the culture, custom, and tradition of the countries we visit is in direct contrast to our own, and we must experience and learn about our host cultures to get positive experiences while travelling. Everyone has come across the "ugly American" that complains about everything and insists that he can't find a good hamburger anywhere! Well, why go to India, a country of a majority of Hindu faithful that view a cow as sacred and never consider eating beef? This is an extreme example, but by observing closely the way we handle ourselves in different travel situations we can begin to identify traits in ourselves that are leaning towards our ugly american and weed these traits out. Perhaps our travels will be more rewarding and diverse if we allow ourselves the time and patience to really learn why people are acting and reacting the way they are, and begin to take a culture on its own terms.


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