How to Survive in Any Culture

Having lived in Africa and Belgium as a child and having many opportunities to travel as a teen has given me a broad perspective of the world. I don’t know everything about every culture, but I do know a few general tips on how to adjust to a new culture. I thought I would share some of that insight asI prepare myself for a culture I’ve never experienced!

1. Keep an open mind. You certainly will not agree with or like everything from that culture, but remember that you don’t agree with or like everything from your own culture either. Realize that this is the time for you to experience something new that you may never get to do again, not the time for you to stick your nose up at something different.

2. It will smell weird. Each country that I have been to has a very distinct smell, whether it was delicious cheese and fresh bread in Belgium (preferable) or something more along the lines of sticking your face in the trashcan in Africa. Yeah it’s gross, suck it up. By the third day you won’t even notice it any more. Okay, yes you will. But you don’t have to wrinkle your nose every five seconds like you’re the Queen of England, choose to be gracious and make the best of it.

3. Try new foods! You are missing on out a huge portion of a culture if you don’t try the weird dishes. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it ever again. By this token I can now say that I’ve eaten fried grasshoppers. At least it sounds cool!

4. When you don’t know what to do, stand back and observe. If there is a cultural situation that you’re unsure of, most of the time the locals are more than happy to show you what to do. If it’s too awkward to ask, wait until you see someone else and then follow suit.

5. Have a positive attitude. If you are grumpy about having to do things you aren’t used to, or things you’re uncomfortable about, you aren’t going to learn anything! And you will make yourself and everyone else miserable. Put on your big kid britches and decide that you are going to have a good time.

Clearly these are pretty general, but they work every time! Just be excited and ready to learn new things.

9 Days and Packing Tips

In just 9 days, I leave for South Korea to spend the summer with my husband. I couldn’t possibly be more excited!!! In our first year of marriage, we have spent more time appart than we have together! But God is good, and he has given us the grace to get through it and He has strengthened our marriage despite the distance we spend appart.

True to my nature, I already have my bag packed. In fact, I have had it nearly packed for almost a month. It’s a little sad. And yes, I did say bag, singular. I am taking one bag, and one backpack for three months. If you think I’m crazy, you’d be surprised how many people would say I’m packing too much! But if you’re going anywhere over the summer and you’re struggling with I-can’t-close-my-suitcase itis, then here are a few tips to help you zip it shut and still get through your trip with everything you need!

1. ROLL! – There is no need to neatly fold all of your clothes, it actually take up more room!

2. Plastic Bag it – If you have an item of clothing that is really awkward (bathing suits… weird.) then roll it up and stuff it into a quart sized ziplock. Squeeze all the air out as best you can, and you’re good to go!

3. Cut back on shoes – think about what you’ll really wear the most often, not what shoes you need for each outfit. I am always tempted to bring more shoes than I need, but I find that I only wear maybe two or three pairs of shoes the majority of the time. I am bringing a pair of running shoes, slip on walking shoes, flip flops, and dress shoes for three months. The only reason I have the extra slip ons is because they are terribly convenient for airport security!

4. Use all of your space wisely – stuff things wherever you can! Use the insides of your shoes for socks, and if you have extra room in your toiletries bag.

5. Do you REALLY need that? – Ask yourself if you’ll reeeeally be able to wear fifteen outfits on a trip that’s only seven days long. I know you think you have an excuse for bringing it, what if you need it? First of all, odds are you probably won’t need it. You aren’t going to need three dresses – just bring one and wear it again if you have to. You aren’t going to need five pairs of pants – two will be fine, just switch them out every other day.

6. Leave behind big, bulky accessories. You can do without your straightener and hair dryer for a few days. If you’re staying in a hotel, they will have a hair dryer. If you’re staying with friends or family, they’ll have one. If you’re in a foreign country, it won’t work in the outlet anyway.

7. Layer! Bring a scarf and a cool necklace and you just turned one outfit into two. Voila. No, this is not more room for another outfit! Put it back.

8. Take a chance and buy toiletries when you get there. Shaving cream, shampoo, conditioner, and soap can be bought pretty much anywhere in the world. Every country gets bathing. So don’t waste space packing them!

Okay, that’s all I can think of for now!

This is a really useful site if you still need help: