I am a frequent visitor to Orlando. The mighty mouse (Mickey) draws more visitors from all over the world than most any tourist destination in Florida. It does not take a rocket scientist to spot a tourist. For one thing, most visitors from outside the U.S. dress differently than most Americans. Of course, once they speak, it is easy to surmise they do not live here by their accent. Second, as in the picture above, it can be quite apparent when one carries a map, a camera, an i-pod, or even a cell phone! Yep, a tourist!
Whatever your mode of operandi as a tourist, one should always be mindful of the customs and cultures of the land one visits. Shouting out “hey lady” to one of the hotel maids in France may not get you what you want! Or even saying ‘mercy’ for ‘merci’ is definitely frowned upon!
It’s not always possible to learn all the customs and cultures of the places we travel. However, one should be mindful of the people we encounter and have respect for their customs and culture just the same. Be aware that you are the visitor on their home turf, and one should always follow their lead. Be cognizant of their personal space and habits. For example, here in the U.S. it is common when crossing the street to walk before the walk symbol appears green. In some countries such as Denmark, it is taboo to cross the street until the ‘walking’ man sign turns green. In other words, don’t do something just because that is the way you do it at home, rather keep in mind this may not be the way it is done someplace else. Being an observer before being a doer will help you fit in and become acculturated and less standoffish as a foreigner.
Which brings me to the next part. There is more than one way to be a tourist and sight see. How we observe as humans, and what our experiences are when we are in new places is a very personal experience that no two people experience the same. For some of us, becoming aware of our surroundings, meeting new people, and conversing with locals can be an enlightening experience that changes ones view of the world. For others, the smells that go along with the sights often reveal people and things that we are attracted to most. And then of course there are those that none of this appeals to and only see the outside world of nature and how one relates to the beauty of the land. Whatever your style of ‘sightseeing’ is, learn to step outside your comfort zone. Explore each and every sight and how you relate to it. Some things will appeal to you, while some will appall you! However you relate, embrace your experiences, learn from them and be carried away by the beauty of other people and foreign lands.
I am without a doubt a people person. I love to talk to strangers and meet new people who bring to light other ways of thinking and living that I may never have encountered before. I find the culture and lifestyle in foreign lands appeals to me, and I come to be more of a well-rounded person from these experiences. I also enjoy the culture, and discovering new sights. Learning about my destination and the people is engaging to me and I hope when I go home to have a better understanding of where I have been and how I related to my new experiences.
What is your favorite way to ‘sight see?’ What have you learned from your adventures?