An Online Primer for Budget Exploration
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III. CULTURAL INTEGRATION
Now, that most delicate and delicious of issues, the cross-cultural romantic affair. Few issues are as perilous, exciting, intriguing or enlightening. Also, there are few ways to prepare for this: you just have to go with it and enjoy it for what it is. Every country differs in its regards to romance, there are even differences within regions. Stereotypes can here again be a problem, but I have found some broad generalizations often do hold; for example, that the farther north you go, the less open and emotional people tend to be. Farther south, expressions of emotion on the outside do not always reflect what is inside.
Deal with each person as the individual they are, but keep in mind that what they say and do will probably not have the same meaning for them as for you. If you have a romance without a serious faux pas, then it means you have successfully negotiated the most intricate of cultural barriers. If it all goes down in a ball of flames (I know that feeling), get on a night train with a bottle of wine, wake up in a totally new culture and try again.
Travelers can have a hard time adjusting to life upon return home, too. Travel changes you, and gosh darn it if things just don't look the same. This is the dreaded "reverse culture shock" or "re-entry disorientation" and it means you traveled with an open mind and were changed by the experience. Although it can be hell readjusting, the struggle is worth it. But this is when you understand the phrase, "You can never go home again".
If you get nothing else out of this chapter, remember to buy a dictionary and phrasebook, use common sense, and be observant and aware.
Next up in Chapter Four; A Tale of Four Travelers.
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