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What Research To Do Before Entering and Living a New Culture

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As an American-Palestinian woman, heading back to the Middle East is like entering a new world entirely.

There are plenty of foreign customs that I need to mentally adjust into before kicking back my feet and spending time with my family. Customs range from new laws to behavioral differences found between the American side and the Middle Eastern side of me.

I’ve made many mistakes settling into these customs in the past, be it something I said that was considered informal, or an act of mine that I unknowingly offended others with.

Travel forces you to modify your everyday behaviors so that you can fit in with the new culture you’re exploring. “Culture Shock,” a term that is true to its name, is when you experience an unfamiliar feeling of confusion in a new culture; For example, the weather, the landscape, the way people interact, or even the foods that different countries offer.

From Princeton University’s study abroad practical matters page, there are four stages of cultural adjustment. Learning to understand these stages and accept them will lead to a healthier and happier travel and stay situation- no matter how long you will be abroad.

The first stage is called The Honeymoon Stage. Here, you will find yourself excited and happy to be part of a new environment, and take in all the new angles that you are experiencing with ease and confidence. This is comparable to a tourist who is visiting a new place. Depending on how long you’re going to travel for, you may not make it past The Honeymoon Stage but happily settle in this stage for your entire duration.

The second is Culture Shock. As previously discussed, you will now be focusing on the differences between your culture and the new culture you’re in. You may be feeling anger, resentment, hostility, and confusion. And, honestly? Different customs can be… Weird.

The third is Gradual Adjustment, and the fourth is Feeling at Home. Finally adjusting to your new culture and its values takes some time, but eventually, the shock wears off and you can settle into your new world with ease and comfort, maybe even consider the new place home.

In order to ensure a smoother adaptation to cultural etiquette, you should always do some research beforehand, to avoid cultural faux pas.

Research Cultural Greetings and Signs of Respect

Sometimes, a lack of proper greeting may give off the wrong vibe and offend those around you. Some cultures use their greetings as a way of respect towards one another. To ensure you show signs of respect and knowledge, take the time to research and practice the greeting that your new culture is used to.

Taboo Customs

A lesson I’ve learned the hard way over the years: Make sure you know what customs are and are not allowed in your new culture.

If you’re coming from an open minded culture, it might be easy to accidentally say or do the wrong thing, especially if you’re entering a more conservative place.

Sometimes, differences are milder than others. Other times, what may seem normal to you may be considered “taboo” elsewhere.

Learn Important Words and Phrases Within the Language

This is considered a sign of respect. Learning the important phrases such as hello/goodbye greetings, thank yous, and other basic mannerisms will go a long way.

Check out these phrases that you should get to know before your trip. To be sure that you’re not offending anyone, do your research on how and when to use these phrases as well.

Different types of Clothing

Clothing is very, very important to consider. Some parts of the world do not accept your everyday attire as adequate, and some may even consider it completely inappropriate, especially if you’re entering a religious country.

Take a look at Smarter Travel’s list of 10 Things You Should Never Wear Abroad. Steer clear of these items just to be safe, and research your country’s everyday attire before stepping out. What’s more important than respecting the country you’re in is living apart of its everyday life.

These are just the four most important points to touch on a new culture. If you’re going to be living in a new place longer, other customs may naturally come to you with time.

Take everything with ease and an open mind above all else. No two countries are the same with their people and their lifestyles. It can be confusing and scary to first settle into a new place, but with a little study and practice, you might find that your new culture is just as fun and comfortable as your home life.

And hey- you might never wanna go back.

Originally posted 2017-08-03 20:01:33.

Julia is a writer and editor who enjoys experiences that expand her mind. You can check out her personal development blog at https://www.juliaismail.com/blog

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Going Solo: The Benefits of Vacationing Alone

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We call friends on the phone, we go out to eat with friends and roommates and family, we make sure we always have company on road trips; rarely do we do anything truly alone anymore. Not that there is anything wrong with company. As social beings, humans are naturally drawn to others. But I feel as though we have lost track along the way of the benefits of being by ourselves, especially on trips. A vacation with loved ones is a wonderful experience, but think about what you can gain on a vacation with just yourself! If you can’t think of any, don’t worry, I’ve done it for you. So here are five tempting reasons to try a solo vacation at least once:

 

  • Paying for it is cheaper.

One plane ticket, one hotel room, one of everything. When you travel solo, you don’t have to worry about who will pay for dinner each night, or fight over who gets the room with the better view. Things seem to simplify when you vacation alone, and that’s exactly what you’ve always wanted out of a trip.

  • Planning becomes less complex.

In the same way, planning your vacation simplifies significantly. Think about it: Want to spend the whole day on the beach? Want to go hike the nearby mountain? Or try hang-gliding for the first time? Go do it. You won’t have to worry about your travel buddy saying “Eh, that doesn’t sound fun” or “why can’t we just sleep in all day?” When you’re on vacation, as nice as it is to sleep the day away, there are so many more interesting things you could be doing. So go do them, without having to sacrifice anything.

  • More time to reflect/unwind. 

Unless you’re in the habit of having entire conversations with yourself out loud, vacationing alone is probably quieter than it would be with another person. Because of this, you have more time to think and to be present in the moment. Experts are always talking about mindfulness, and a solo vacation is the perfect time to practice this. So while you’re reading or walking or sunbathing by yourself, take the opportunity to enjoy every moment to its fullest. Not only will you feel more rested when you get back to the daily grind, you’ll be able to come back knowing that you made the most of your time alone.  

  • A sense of true independence.

Without someone there to defer to on all of your decisions, you get to make every choice yourself, without the excuse of not wanting to ignore the wishes of your companion. You decide where you want to eat, where you want to stay, what you want to do each day. With this freedom comes a sense of independence and comes a sense of independence and self-reliance that you may not get by travelling with someone.

  • You’ll be alone, but not lonely.

And with your new sense of independence, you become more aware of the fact that while you may be alone, you don’t have to be lonely. Just because you don’t know anyone doesn’t mean there’s no one to talk to. Go to a bar and make friends, start a conversation with the person next to you on the plane, or at the next table over at dinner. Learn about a new place, or make a new friend from another city/state/country. Vacationing alone isn’t the same thing as isolating yourself.

Doesn’t that sound tempting? Sure, it might be difficult for some. But if you get the chance, try it. Bring a few books to read and enjoy that me-time better than ever before. I guarantee you won’t regret the chance to learn more about yourself.

Originally posted 2017-08-11 15:29:47.


Also published on Medium.

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Decoding Male Fragility

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The conundrum that is male toxicity and his narcissistic cousin fragility, do the most in destroying lives. The notorious duo symbolizes deep hurt and pain for others. For people embedded with the duo traits skewed wiring allows them to inflict abuse without remorse. Personality disorders and mental health are things we need to address. I don’t claim to know it all, but as a writer and social scientist, I see trends and patterns, and a deep need for dialogue and prevention.

Male Toxicity and Fragility Are Destroyers of Spirits and Lives

What I know to be fact, is that anyone can be victimized by male toxicity and fragility. Men with these issues do their best work when preying on women and children. When male toxicity and fragility hang out together, the goal is getting what they what, when they want it. If that means choking a woman out, so be it. When they’re on the scene women can count on being called out of their name, leered at, the recipient of unwanted advances including invitations to be sexed down, being raped if she’s not ”with it”, and general disrespect. If she chooses to ignore the signs she may end up a willing participant in a game of inter-partner violence and fighting for her life.

Inequality Is Real Deal Stuff

That’s real. Don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for your troubles either. The general consensus can come from men and women alike, who believe that the transgression, whatever it is, happened because of something a woman did or didn’t do. The way patriarchy is set up, men stick together on some tired ass notion that they rule. They think inequality is fine, and anyone pushing outside those restraints is the enemy.

They imagine that women should be doing something different, bigger and better perhaps, to keep him happy at all costs. If you disagree, you hate men. Even if you didn’t sweat a toxic male about the big things, small things, or anything at all, he’d still come for you. His ego is fed when he controls you. Resist that mess. Even when they say, he’s just being a man, after all. Male toxicity and fragility are currently the cause of death for half of Black women.

Women are Literally Dying At The Hands Of Male Toxicity

On June 21, 2017, report the Center for Prevention and Disease Control (CDC), shared information that states,“half of all female homicide victims experienced intimate partner violence, and that Black women die from that alone cause more than others. There are a lot of women killed by angry men.  Intimate partner violence reduces women to punching bags and a living hell where their survival eventually depends on eating abuse, in order to feed the egos of their abusers until they can flee.

How Many People Do You Know Caught Up In Abuse?

That scenario is between cis women and men, but know, that it can and does play out in queer communities as well. We know how married the queer community is to labels. With those labels come expectations which circle back, looking very hetero in nature. Part of male toxicity requires abusers to make it clear who is most dominant in the relationship. Somewhere scripture that requires men to be leaders of their households gets misinterpreted. The problem is not all men are willing or able to lead in fairness, and with respect. Hence the reasons for womanism and feminism. We’re equal baby, or we’re nothing at all.

The Fallout From Abuse Can Become Cyclical Affecting Generations

If male toxicity and fragility are responsible for the murders of queer and cis women, then all women need to know about self-worth, self-love, and self-defense. Children who see their mother’s being physically, emotionally, and verbally abused, often become victims of abuse later in life. Just as bad, they may become adults who abuse.  

Take Care Of Your Mental Health

I’m very concerned about and dedicated to raising awareness around mental health. When you experience abuse as most queers will at some point, it’s important to be aware of how living with the stress of being queer in a hetero world can wear on mental health. Trust when I tell you, being Black, Queer and Woman is becoming more dangerous every day as the current administration allows for all types of fuckery from people who dislike my whole person, and have never even met me.

Queering Straight Spaces – Bump The Haters!

I get eaten alive in comments on social media from men who measure my worth, deciding I have none when I proclaim my queerness.  They can’t fathom why I don’t have a man. As if my desire to work on me, instead of dating right now is somehow selfish. These men seem to think that they are God’s gift to the world, and maybe they could touch the hem of that realm if they’d lose the arrogance and learn how to engage women.

Trans women Face The Most Discrimination In Today’s Dating World

For trans women trying to date, the subject of late is disclosure. Should they disclose? Are they obligated to do so and at what stage of dating should they spill all? On July 23, 2016, Dwayna Hickerson, 21, fatally stabbed De Whigham, 25, 119 times when he learned she was not born a girl. He’s looking at 40 years without parole and another 15 years for going into Whigham’s purse and lifting her cell phone. Compliments of the Jacksonville, Mississippi legal system and his inability to simply walk away.

When Is It Safe For Trans women To Disclose?

I believe everyone has a right to know who they’re dealing with if sex is going to be involved. But, because male toxicity and fragility are so prevalent, it begs the question, when is a safe time for trans women to reveal she wasn’t born a girl? A fragile person is likely to react violently, regardless of when they’re told. There is a percentage of men in my social media circles who categorically say they would fuck a trans girl up for leading them on. They add if sex occurred she could expect to be choked out.

Other men said simply that it, “ain’t cool.” I think as a woman that the conversation bears more consideration. Women. Are. Dying.  Queer and Str8. That’s the realness of this twisted scenario that lets men think they have the right to control and diminish a woman, at their whim.  

Ladies, Protect Your Energy

It’s imperative that all women know how to protect their minds, hearts, and bodies from fragile ass male egos and men who hate them.  It’s up to women to do the work to figure out just who it is “you be”. Seriously, until you do, you will invite energy that includes the likes of male toxicity and his east side cousin, fragility. For trans girls who are finding your way, get yourself a good mentor. One who is compassionate, consistent, and cares about your well being. Use social media to connect with like minds. Take a break from it as needed, sometimes you need to escape the pure madness floating down your timeline.

Words For Toxic and Fragile Men

To the toxic and fragile men of the world, I hope that you deal with your demons. To live without compassion and respect for all that is woman is to be a soulless spirit. I’m sorry for your past hurts and wish you Godspeed in finding your way back. I prefer not to deal with that energy, but if I have to (we do live in a white supremacist world), I take aim with anyone who threatens my survival.

Words for Trans women

Trans women do need to understand that cis Black women have long suffered at the whims of cis men of all races. We have been dying. Find a gun class for women, by women, get a stun gun, take a self-defense class, do what you need to do to be as safe as possible. Sage advice, and what women do.

In order for allied relationships to form and work between trans, lesbian, and cis women, trans women should be at the table as women, but should come gracefully. Leave that, “I’ll take your man.” ish for the movies and House song lyrics.  For cis women, it’s enough to understand your story, without the switch being flipped and you entering with male privilege slipping through. Let’s be real, in a fair fight (without weapons) some trans women can hold their own against cis males if need be. So check your male privilege that still exists and will peep through as an embedded survival technique.

Words for Cis and Lesbian Women

At the same time, cis women you know the world is ever changing. Trans women love what you represent. The essence of woman is the sweetest and most wonderful thing on the planet. We’re warriors, every one of us. Trans sisters feel that energy, maybe get to know some new folk or at least become educated before throwing people under the bridge. For the haters know this, only someone with a fragile ego grounded in male or female toxicity (yes, some women are evil), is so wounded they can’t lovingly embrace the idea of women and what we bring to the world.  

Travel Advisory Issued

That women cis, lesbian, and trans face threats of violence on a daily, both from intimate partners and strangers in the street is abhorrent. So much so, that the Missouri NAACP  has issued a first ever travel advisory for Blacks, Queers, Women and other minorities.

Read: Anyone other than cis white men is at risk traveling to the “show me” state.  I take that as notice to be on alert wherever we are.

The bottom line is that we have to learn to co exist. Male toxicity and fragility have to be addressed with doable solutions so that murders of women stop and people are held accountable. Transphobia in our communities is a very real thing to those facing it. We can all do much better. Communication is key!

Originally posted 2017-08-11 12:26:33.

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Love It, Leave It: The Long Island (North Fork) Edition

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“I’m headed out east for the weekend!” — said every bougie New Yorker ever in summer. Most people take that phrase to mean the Hamptons, an iconic strip of the South Fork of Long Island, where celebs and Wall Street bros attend polo matches, sip on Dom Perignon and light piles of money on fire*. I, however, head to the North Fork, known for its up-and-coming wine region and small seaside towns with quaint restaurants and pebble beaches. Part of me hopes these towns will stay relatively uncrowded for a little while longer, but with NYC powerhouse chefs like Frank DeCarlo (of the famed Peasant restaurant) opening up shop in Greenport, my hopes may be dashed soon. Alas, the NoFo is the ideal weekend getaway for New Yorkers and you better get in there before it’s too cool.

Love It: Little Creek Oysters. Pellegrini Winery.

Little Creek Oysters (Greenport): HELLO, you adorable little oyster shack, you. Are you free Saturday night? What a coincidence, me too. This is the quintessential beach town seafood joint: outdoor space with unpretentious wooden benches, overlooking rows of boats (from modest fishing vessels to what I call the “P. Diddy yacht”). If you choose the “shuck yourself” option — like we intrepid lesbians — oyster prices are cut in half; pay only $18 per dozen vs. $3 per bivalve if the house shucks for you. The oysters are so local — literally from the Peconic Bay just a few miles away — and so incredibly fresh. Every beer on tap is even more local. Wait — is that even possible? Yep, you can practically see Greenport Brewing while you’re shucking.

Pellegrini Winery (Cutchogue): Many people still head out to the North Fork in massive party buses, consuming egregious amounts of booze en route to multiple wineries (where they’ll — you guessed it — continue drinking). A lot of wineries cater to this crowd, with food trucks, loud bands, and festivals. Then you have the Pellegrini-type wineries, that are passionate about the grapes, the process, and let the wine speak for itself. Aesthetically speaking, this vineyard is one you would want to get married at — simply put, it’s breathtaking. The wines were a perfect accompaniment to the exterior beauty of the vineyard. I was fond of the stainless steel Chardonnay and the Petit Verdot.

Leave It: Emilio’s (Greenport). Restaurants ‘out east’ can often be four-dollar-signs-on-Yelp expensive. This was mostly why Emilio’s came up on my family’s radar. We had hit up some pricey (but tasty) seafood spots and our wallets were starting to feel a bit vacant. This was a casual pizza joint on one side and a sit-down restaurant on the other. The menu wasn’t solely pizza (praise be because I simply cannot with subpar pizza); rather, it was accompanied with a list of staples like shrimp Francese and fettuccine alfredo. I went for the former and was wildly disappointed. The breading was essentially falling off of the shrimp and the iconic lemon butter sauce was uninspiring. Our table had also tried out the buffalo wings to start, which I endearingly dubbed “buffacue wings.” It was as if the kitchen ran out of its last bottle of Frank’s RedHot and dumped some barbecue sauce on top to even it out. To add insult to injury, the restaurant didn’t even have any music on, making you feel as if you were eating while the restaurant was mid-closing. Prices may be cheaper here, but this comes at a cost.

*This is an unverified statement, but not completely improbable.

Originally posted 2017-08-10 18:28:43.

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