Global tourism is becoming a casual activity. We go on holidays all over the world, to the most exotic destinations our parents could only dream of going to.
We cram our flats with a collection of souvenirs and upload millions of photos on social networks.
However, does it give us a real chance to fully understand the places we visit, the people and their ways? Even if we arm ourselves with the latest edition of Lonely Planet, go “off the beaten” track and see something absolutely mind-blowing (a bunch of local kids playing with dolphins, a local arm-wrestler or an old woman who can foresee the future), it still makes us just a mere observer or in other words – a tourist.
It still doesn’t bring us any closer to the destination of true cultural understanding.
The true understanding comes only if you plunge yourself into the foreign environment. Irrevocably, unconditionally, with an open heart. Trust me, from a Russian girl who lived in China for 4 years and now lives in the UK, I’ve done it and loved it.
Easy to say but how do you actually do it? Pub chat? Small talk with the people on the streets? Sounds like you will require some guidance. In other words, you need a friend, better a bunch of them, better like-minded who can daily engage you in their activities.
What I’m suggesting here is that the best way to meet new people in a foreign country and learn their ways in life is to start working with them. This will provide you with a variety of their world perspectives. Workplace is the most natural environment for learning about the culture and building relationships. Time to pick your destination and start cultural learning.
Get the World Map Covered on a Super Yacht
The Mediterranean season runs from April to September with the ports of destination like Italian coasts, Corsica, Cyprus, Turkey etc. The Caribbean goes October through March and will bring you to the places like Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and Barbados. You will be able to make the world travel dream come true and work with people from literally every corner of the globe. This is not to mention rich and famous yacht passengers. Start learning bits of slang from your international coworkers and get closer to the lives and gossips of the celebrity world.
Working in the yachting industry can be really tough at times but in the end of the day still very rewarding both in terms of experience and remuneration.
Training required: Yes, RYI, STCW 95 safety certificate
Your visa situation: Awesome news, as a member of the crew you don’t require visas.
Enjoy an American Summer
A quick course in contemporary American culture.
Most programs for students run through the summer break and let you enjoy the perks of sunny weather.
There are many varieties of jobs you can do in the States like a camp counselor, waiter, office help etc. The application process is fairly straightforward and you can choose the position and the work placement yourself.
You will get to enjoy the simple algorithm of American life: problem – solution. Why worry if the only thing to do when there’s trouble is to find a fix to it. Americans will infect you with their optimism, friendliness, fantastic culture of never giving up and, of course, jazz.
Training required: Previous experience in the chosen job field is preferred but not required as most certainly you’ll be given trainings anyways.
Your visa situation: Work visa is required.
Work on a Holiday in Australia
Haven’t hit your 30′s yet? Thinking of escaping to some place warm? Time to take advantage of a 12-month working holiday visa in Australia.
You can find any kind of job depending on your qualifications or lack of them. Whatever your case is, Australia presents you with limitless variety of job opportunities from fruit picking to banking.
Enjoy the gorgeous sands, swim with whale sharks and marvel at Great Barrier Reef with your Aussie mate. Pick up the work-hard-play-hard attitude and live an outdoor life full of adventures, sport and BBQs.
Website tips: http://goworkabout.com
Your visa situation: Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417) up to 12 months. Check your eligibility here.
Training required: Depends on the industry.
Volunteer in South America
Always felt like being amazed by the Inca ruins and raw nature beauties of Iguassu waterfall; joining in the Brazilian carnival, exploring glaciers of Patagonia and having life flash before your eyes while mountain biking on the World’s Most Dangerous Road in Bolivia? You can combine your adventurous plans and get a close community feeling making a difference hand in hand with South Americans. There are variety of projects in the region such as teaching, conservation and environment, Inca Projects etc. Most volunteer placements provide an opportunity to live with a host family. Isn’t it the best way to soak up the cultural knowledge? You’ll learn how to revel in spontaneity, social life and excitement by immersing into 4 national cornerstones, i.e. music, dancing, art and cooking.
Website tips: http://www.volunteersouthamerica.net
Your visa situation: Depends on your nationality. For some countries it’s a free entry up to 90 days.
Training required: Depends on the work field.
Teach Your Native Language in China
Depending on the school type you’ll be able to explore life of different social classes and their life views.
The private schools will open upper class doors, their 3 generation families, sophisticated dinners and stories of success. A small language corner in the local community on the other hand, will plunge you in the atmosphere of tradition, history and pure simplicity. This contrast will strike as quite surreal in the hectic life of the national mentality transformation. Make sure to make the most of both experiences, learn from Chinese wisdom and become a real explorer after climbing the Great Wall.
Website tips: http://thebeijigner.com
Training required: TESOL or other teaching certificates would be preferred but you can also learn from doing.
Your visa situation: Work visa required.
Remember these travels require an ability to completely assimilate into a culturally new environment. After the honeymoon phase you might be hit by culture shock and an urge to change the new people around you, imposing your values on them. Well, try not to. Accept everyone for who they are and they will pay you back in the most invaluable currency; they will let you be one of their own.
In the end you’ll come out a real soldier – strong, confident and a new identity will emerge while you are pushing your horizons further and further. This acquired identity will aspire you to share your experiences and make you really feel that the world is your own personally trained oyster.
Natalia Stukan holds a degree in linguistics, has been traveling the world for 5 years and is a freelance writer.