NYC: One Little Cultural Tester

NYC: One Little Cultural Tester

As you walk on the streets of New York City, you can look around and notice that New York really IS a cultural hub.  It is amazing the way so many cultures learn to coexist in a single city, and still manage to keep their individuality at the same time.

NYC can be seen as a cultural tester – you know… like those testers you see on every perfume store.  You go, you test, you like, you take… in this case, …you experience. Life in New York can be seen as the preamble to what your cultural experience might be when you travel abroad.  Of course, I’m not saying it is the same thing, but it’s a good start to prepare yourself for the cultural shock you might experience at your destination.

From my own experience, I used this tester approach for my trips to Thailand, Germany, South Korea, and Poland.  Out of those, I think the Korean tester was the best and most accurate.  The Korean District in Flushing, NY is an almost accurate reflection to what some areas of South Korea were really like.  The signs in Korean, the street chaos, the vendors speaking in Korean, the traditional food, the stores, and even the banks are all influenced by the Korean culture.

I experimented some of its food, listened to the language, and tried to understand the written signs (which I never truly understood).  This “experimentation” helped me appreciate and understand even more the actual culture that is seen day by day in South Korea.  I was prepared to experience some things as well as totally unprepared for others (like the public restrooms… ugh! And the barbershop look-a-like signs… which they are NOT barbershops!!).  But still, receiving these cultural inputs, understanding their difference, and experimenting them; will definitely make your travel experience so much more rewarding.

Even when you’re not in a multicultural city like New York, you can still achieve these types of cultural tests by other means.  They can be either by meeting foreign friends, your own city demographics, the internet, and even social networks.  I’ve also tried these other approaches and they’ve been very positive.

No matter what is your preference when it comes to travel, whether you like experiencing extreme cultural shocks or like being prepared for what might come, the important thing is to get to experience the real culture, live it, respect it, and cherish it.  In the end, that’s what traveling is all about!

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