Different cultures and the way that people react to different situations in life has always sparked an interest and in my mind. Traveling to different countries allows me to observe the world and interact with its people who seem to be different, but in reality we are all the same.
I recently just returned from a vacation with my family. My parents decided last October that they wanted to cruise the Baltic Sea. After long hours of planning and implementing we were finally on our way to one of the best experiences of my life. The Seven Seas Voyager of the Regent cruise line started its journey it Copenhagen, Denmark and from there stopped in Visby, Sweden, Tallinn, Estonia, St. Petersburg, Russia, Helsinki, Finland, and Stockholm, Sweden. The cruise was a seven day journey with sites and picturesque views you thought you would only see in movies or books.
Like any new place you visit there is always the thought of, “what will the people be like”? When we first arrived in Copenhagen we were looking for the train to the hotel and three separate people were more than happy to help us with a warm welcome and smile. Every other country was the same as well, very hospitable. The only country that was not was St. Petersburg, Russia. You have to understand though that their country had no say in what they did for such a long period of time. They are very proud that they are their own people now and they do not want anyone to ruin that for them, so they are very strict on who they let into their country, and they do not do it with a smile, but you have to step back and take that into consideration instead of taking their attitudes personally.
Through observation and practice I discovered a characteristic that every traveler should have when going to a new country. As American’s we are seen as the highest power, the place where you can get whatever you want when you want it. Our TV shows and movies sometimes depict a negative image of who we are and our expectations, and people in other countries constantly see this. When going to a new country or someone else’s home land, you should embrace their lives. When I went to a restaurant and either could not read the menu or did not know what was good I told the waiter to pick for me. They were shocked that I would let them do that plus they feared I would dislike it, but it showed them I wanted to spend a moment in their shoes. Instead of changing up a beautiful meal by adding ranch dressing and French fries, I tasted and savored the flavor of their country, instead of mine. I also tried to learn simple words in the Swedish and Russia language such as a simple “hello” (hi) and “thank you” (tak).
In my life I have been very blessed to travel all over the world and I have learned that the Swedish, Russian, English, German, and Spanish love to share their cultures. We can let them by opening our eyes and allowing them to let us step into their lives.
Before we get to a new place we are always nervous about what the people are going to be like, but they are just like you and me and they want to share their lives and ideas with us because they are proud of who they are too.
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