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While European behavior may on the surface seem familiar to many travelers, there are many subtle cultural differences to appreciate. Remember that they have a very different history and world view than outsiders do. Their countries are relatively small, their histories long, their traditions and values ancient, and their customs deeply rooted.

Travel with an open mind and open ears. Everyone has some tale to tell, some wisdom to share, some perspective to offer. Turn your vacation into an education.

As you try to get beyond the superficial contacts, culture shock can become a problem. Culture shock is a feeling of stress or distress at the new surroundings, where there are no familiar markers telling you how to behave and feel. People may not understand your slang or your humor, even those from a common language. Talking is not as free and easy as at home, because conversations may take sudden, unexpected twists. You can't take things for granted, and everyday will bring a new learning experiences.

Probe beyond the surface. Break life down, from a set of standard daily expectations into looking for those commonalities of humanity which bind us all together; the need for laughter, friendship, sharing, eating and enjoying life.

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