Being international at home
This is an introduction of an upcoming series that I’ll have regarding how to fulfill your passion for travel without ever leaving home. It is easy for people who are constantly able to travel to forget what it’s like not to be traveling. However, there are many people out there who have the traveling soul, but just aren’t able to make it on the road too often. Some are students, some career professionals, others just plainly do not have the financial resources or opportunity to explore our beautiful world. If you are stuck at home and wish that you were still traveling, then this article is for you. Below you will find a list of things that you can do at home to get lost on the road and be international at home.
1.) Read Books – Reading is one of the most basic ways to travel without traveling. It requires a bit of imagination, but a reader can get lost in any good travel book. Thanks to some of the world’s greatest authors, their words inspire us and bring us along on their journey.
2.) Watch movies – I do not advocate spending countless hours in front of a TV, but a good travel movie every once in a while won’t hurt you. The other night, I watched L’auberge Espagnole, which is a movie about a French exchange student in Barcelona. I found myself laughing and reliving some of his experiences because of how accurate certain parts of the movie were. It was enjoyable and in some ways refreshing.
3.) Read the news – I often find that reading the news helps me to refresh my memory on trips that I have been able to take. It also keeps me in tuned with international relations and politics. Being that I studied international relations for one of my undergraduate programs, I always find new developments in the world to be interesting. Especially those, with great controversy and deep history.
4.) Dine in authentic international restaurants – I have been to a few restaurants in the United States where I felt like a foreigner. It was like I hard burst into a community, or diaspora, of a specific group, and I loved every moment of it. It was like an at home social experiment. For example, I once dined in a restaurant in Miami with some friends. I think that my friend and I were the only native English speakers in the restaurant. The language that they were speaking was not Spanish, yet Russian. Check out these ethnic neighborhoods in NYC for ideas.
5.) Hit the festivals – Festivals are a great way to celebrate culture. Depending on what kind of festival it is of course, you may be able to completely experience a different culture. You have to get creative and do some research, but you’d be surprised to find out which festivals may be around you. I have lived in Lafayette, Louisiana for most of my life, but I never knew that there was a Holi Indian festival. In east Louisiana, there is a festival to honor the Hungarian population that migrated there, and these are both relatively small towns. Another example, was the Puerto Rican (boriqua festival) in Cleveland; I accidentally caught that one, but it turned out to be a good experience. There are countless festivals annually around the globe in so many cities.
6.) Music – I believe that humans have a special connection to music. The idea of music as a culture messenger has grown on me in recent years. I have started to see how music can really speak to you and bring out different emotions. Find some music that you cannot understand a word of and get grooving.
7.) Have international friends – This one might seem obvious, but it is not always so straight forward. If you are established in your community, then you may already have a specific group of friends. However, if you are moving to a new place, then you are in a position to meet new people. Seek out international people who will stimulate interesting conversations with you and teach you about their lives. Express an interest in learning about them and begin to form bonds. I have been very fortunate to have international friends who have taught me many lessons about the world. I am forever indebted to their cultural sharing, and I met them all at home.
8.) Join clubs, committees, and organizations with international people – Do you like playing sports or have any hobbies? Perhaps, some of your interests are shared by others from different backgrounds. If not, try picking up international sports such as cricket or soccer (futbol). Go to a local field on an intramural day; I’d be surprised if there weren’t internationals playing.
9.) Pick up a new language – There are plenty of reasons why you should learn a second language, but being more international is another good one. As my polyglot friend used to tell me, you have to love a culture before you can speak a language; you cannot learn a language until you embrace the way they live. Learn about the culture, read, watch movies, and learn a new perspective through a language.
10.) Be a tourist at home – I remember when I was little and some family friends came to visit from Canada. When they arrived they had these elaborate plans drawn out with all sorts of ideas about where they were going to go and what they were going to see. They started talking about things that weren’t too far away, but my family had never done, even living so close. I have found the same to be true when I travel. Most people will travel far away, but never see the things closest to them. Now that you have traveled and possibly have a different perspective, consider some unique things around your home and explore them with a new mindset.
11.) Be a host – If you are comfortable inviting strangers into your home, then be a host to them. Websites like Couchsurfing.org are a great way to network with people traveling. Often times, you will get requests from people if you have selected that you have a couch for people. People can bring the traveling into your very home and fill your life with stories and tales from abroad. They can refresh you.
As I conclude, I hope that you found some of these points helpful in your life. All travelers will miss the road at some point. For many reasons, we cannot travel forever; we can live internationally minded though, wherever we may be.
In line with #6 on music, I hope this video makes you smile:
What are your thoughts?
How do you stay international without leaving home? What do you do to get your travel fix when at home?