I am not going to lie, I’m not the most PC person in the world. I’m polite, but not politically correct. I try to follow Thumper’s mom’s advice, “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” That means I spend a lot of time quietly listening and biting my tongue in order not to offend others. Society, in general, has gotten so comfortable with judgments that we now write them off as observations and do not consider how it might be taken by those around us.
After a recent trip to Japan, I realized that some people seem incapable of embracing an experience and would rather judge and compare the culture they are visiting with their own comfort zone. Instead of taking in the experience and learning from it, we instead had a constant volley of comments and jokes and sarcasm (and that’s coming from the queen of sarcasm!!), so much so that it was off-putting.
The best part of going to other places is learning from the culture. I can’t say that I have enjoyed every bit of every place I’ve gone. Usually, the foods are WAY outside my meat and potatoes comfort zone. The flavor profiles and the almost constant use of fish over beef and poultry are enough to nearly push me over the edge 7 days into an 11-day trip. Not being able to have a normal conversation with someone – like room service or the front desk at the hotel – is really difficult. I ordered room service 3 separate occasions in Japan and not once was I sure that I was getting what I wanted until after they showed up at my door.
While having a guide for Fukuoka take us to shrines, temples, and restaurants, my traveling companions made fun of the experiences. Making snide remarks incessantly. It was very awkward. I can’t imagine they would have made those comments in front of others in the U.S. like that, but somehow it ended up happening there and being okay.
Learning through comparisons is only natural but be careful not to become a judge-y douche. Embrace other cultures, the change, and the differences. It might be your only opportunity to ever experience that country & culture. Don’t spend the whole time talking about home instead of making memories.