One of the best things about spending time overseas is experiencing something you never have before, enjoying an experience fresh and devoid of context. Trying something entirely new gives you an opportunity to start from scratch, letting you create a system of understanding devoid from any prior bias.

What people tend to underestimate in their constant search for the new is that working from something familiar is often the best way to understand an unfamiliar experience, to give it texture and substance. Not only can this help you connect something new with your roots, but it can also allow you further insight and appreciation into different cultures and their values.

Dance Festival
Dance Festival” (CC BY 2.0) by Silver Blu3

Seeing Similarities in our Differences

Diversification and how this change occurs is, after all, a core part of humanity. Everything we do is related to and based in some way upon something we have already done. Simple illustrations of this can be found everywhere in our social, culinary, and technological lives – we simply feel more comfortable with the familiar. But if we draw parallels between events that take place in foreign cultures and ones that we understand, we might actually find a new experience more enjoyable than sticking to familiarity.

The Technological Examples

If you have family that recently made their first trips overseas, you’ll notice their surprise in finding what the following apps showed them in terms of cultural differences. Dating app Tinder, for example, will turn up very different styles of profiles in Japan than it did at home. Individual account details differed heavily, with each nation’s values reflected in shared public profiles, making it a very different experience. Indeed, finding a local date from whom they could potentially learn more about the area was perhaps a step outside their comfort zone, but the method used to accomplish this provided a vital source of familiarity.

We’re increasingly reliant on tech as a home comfort and travelers can find the portability of forms of entertainment – such as casino games – an excellent way to stay connected to home while exploring a new place, a never-ending source of familiarity. Not just that: the vast range of games available at this site even signposted them towards cultural phenomena they could research and then discover in person.

The simple and ubiquitous form of access available from mobile phones means you can make basic discoveries about cultural disparities before even leaving the hotel room on the first night. If you have the time, don’t forget these types of opportunities: they are simple to access and can afford significant cultural insight.

Mc-Tea” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by llee_wu

Don’t Feel Pressured into the ‘Genuine’ Experience

Travel elitism is a very real thing, where some will deride others for enjoying a trip that they themselves consider less than 100 percent “genuine”. But, while some might be able to relate to their distant neighbors in this completely immersive way, most of us need a stronger base, and this is nothing to be ashamed of.

Something like eating at chain establishments for every meal while overseas is not something most travelers would recommend, but going back every now and then for something comfortable can offer significant benefits for your mental comfort – not to mention the chance of getting a small taste of local variety at the same time!

Traveling builds us as people, it helps us grow and serves as a basis for greater worldwide compassion. Building something strong, however, relies on a foundation. Start from the familiar, especially if you are new to the world of travel, and you’ll find new friends and places much easier to understand and relate to.