Living like a local abroad

A local enjoying Thai street food.

Sampling Thai street food.

I love those little moments of living abroad where you feel like you’ve gotten deeper into the local scene: finding that bus that goes directly to your favorite restaurant, discovering a street stall with great food, visiting a local friend’s home to meet their family. Those are the moments I treasure the most.

Matador Abroad has a fun article titled Escaping the Expat Trap: How to Live Like a Local When You’re Abroad.

One of the best ways I’ve found to do this is to work for a local company and be surrounded by native co-workers all the time.  You end up having to face the same pressures, hear them speak the language a lot and go out to lunch with them at their favorite cheap joints. That’s as local as it gets.

You also get to experience some of the more negative aspects of their culture that are hidden from tourists. Work cultures in other countries are usually very different from those in the West.  Foreign countries can have wildly differing views on time, for example.  There are countries where being an hour late is normal, while being 5 minutes late would be a grave offense in other places. Going to work becomes like a free class in local culture.

Posted by | Comments (2)  | February 27, 2009
Category: General, Travel News, Vagabonding Advice

2 Responses to “Living like a local abroad”

  1. soultravelers3 Says:

    Living like a local is really the only way to go, isn’t it? We are a family into our 3rd year of an open ended tour and love slow travel and deep immersion.

    We don’t work with locals, but find local schools an even better way to really connect with the local community. We are spending our 3rd winter in a tiny 15th century village in Andalusia, Spain and we walk our child to the local school every morning just like everyone else. We gab with the other parents when we pick her up.

    We take her to flamenco class, the park, ceramics class, violin class, soccer, birthday parties, and arrange sleep overs and play dates with each other’s kids. We participate in all the local festivals like Three Kings, the annual Christmas show put on by the kids and this weeks Carnival etc.

    We travel in an RV for 7 months of the year and when we return in November, the whole village knows we are back within an hour! It is the kind of small town that you see the principle, teachers,doctors, dentists all the time in the market or doing errands and kids play in the cobbled streets with no worries.

    Having a child and being a family is another excellent “free class” in local culture!