Merry Christmas to everyone who is celebrating today! Emily and I hope y’all are having a wonderful holiday with your family and friends, whether you’re close to home or out getting Big Travel!
Million Mile Secrets team member Joseph told me about a fun trip he took recently to an international neighborhood just a mile from his house. I’ll let him give you the details!
Joseph: They say that people travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.
Years ago, I worked in an environment with predominantly Spanish speakers. I wanted to understand them so badly that for months I hired a Spanish tutor to meet me at a coffee shop after work and converse with me in Spanish until dark. NO ENGLISH ALLOWED.
He’d sometimes take me to Mexican neighborhoods (which I didn’t even know existed!) to practice ordering food at restaurants, asking directions, and general conversational Spanish. I was amazed at how close to home I was able to feel a culture shock!
If you know where to look, you can travel around the world in your own home town.
Experience Rich Culture Without Stepping on a Plane
Struggling to learn Spanish was one of the most embarrassing projects of my life. My Spanish tutor would teach with big colorful preschool picture books, and talk to me like a child. Every conversation I had was intimidating because I was too self-conscious.
After my tutoring ended ($$$), I never made my way back to those Spanish neighborhoods. My memory emphasized the unpleasant growing pains of learning another language. So I stayed in my comfort zone and away from the Spanish district.
But because I haven’t traveled in a while, I decided to head down to that thriving Latin American neighborhood to get back in the swing of things.
The first food truck I approached, I began with an English “hello,” to prepare them for the amateur Spanish that would follow. And before long, my guard was down and I was having FUN!
One of the customers recommended a burrito with pineapple as a lead ingredient, and it was delicious!
I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed interacting with Spanish speaking folks. They were NOT rooting for me to fail! They wanted to speak to me as much as I wanted to speak to them.
It bummed me out that I had spent so long avoiding the area. It’s an exciting community, with sights, sounds, and tastes you can’t find in other parts of town.
Revisiting the neighborhood reminded me how important it is to stay open-minded and unembarrassed around different cultures. It’s easy to travel across the world to visit a place and miss out if you’re too self-conscious.
For many, it’s possible to experience a completely different culture with a short drive. If you know where to look, you can have an international adventure in your home town!
Spending time with folks from other cultures now can make your future trips more enjoyable by expanding your comfort zone. And they’re usually happy to help you along.
So when you DO travel abroad, you’ll have an even richer experience! Feliz Navidad!