Traveling: A Visual Experience Beneficial to All (Hearing, Deaf, or Hard of Hearing)
I know this topic is similar to posts I've written before, but as I'm in a new country, I'm continuously reminded of what a unique experience it is to travel. Traveling has the ability to challenge all of our 5 senses, but I think most prominently is our sense of sight. I think it's important to reiterate that this is something all of us, hearing, deaf, or hard of hearing need to accept and realize as something we have in common, and in that is something we need to share with each other!
Daily, I'm immersed in some new setting where I have to be visually aware of my surroundings. Surroundings being the people, the interactions, the street signs, etc., all of which can challenge your way of thinking and learning.
The other day, for instance, I was taking a class at the gym. I studied Spanish growing up, so I thought I might be able to get by with basic interaction, and I have been to some extent, but holy crap, they talk fast, therefore I'm not doing too hot. Anyways, the class was conducted in Spanish, obviously, and as someone who already relies super heavily on visual cues, it became even more apparent in this moment when I literally understood nothing and had to rely solely on being able to watch and mimic movements! Luckily, there was another girl who spoke English and rode the struggle bus with me. Eventually, we figured out our rhythm visually and physically but not before being called out by the teacher, because why not!?
Anywho, this had me thinking about other observations in my traveling thus far. Some more general, and some more specific. For instance, things that we may consider rude in the States are not rude in other countries. Greeting one another with a kiss on the cheek is the norm and expected in Argentina, but in many Asian countries, a kiss in public is much too intimate. Speaking of the kiss greeting in Argentina, one guy in my group definitely misread an Argentinian man going in for a kiss and had a bit of a panic moment and just tried to shake his hand. Quite precisely the case in point to take note of those around you and their interactions ;)
This general human to human interaction has been one of the most fascinating things to observe. Take Taipei, for example. Call me stereotypical white girl, as I cannot fully distinguish between Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc, but in Taipei, it was pretty obvious to spot who was Chinese and who was Taiwanese purely by the way someone reacted to someone else getting on the subway. Chinese are not particularly well-liked amongst the younger generations in Taiwan. People would instantly distance themselves from certain people as they walked on. Chinese tend to have a more pushy nature as compared with the humble Taiwanese, so a pusher usually indicated as such but made even more apparent when someone would put more space between themselves and the oncoming person.
It's little things like this that make you more aware of social cues and cultural differences and as a guest in someone else's country, you should be mindful and abide by their rules even if you may not agree. I keep having to remind myself to not take offense to these kinds of things. Sometimes easier said than done.
Some people in my group are from other countries and are more direct than those of us from the States. It's taken me some time to adjust to it, but knowing that it's purely cultural and not intentional is a unique and cool thing to accept.
I know many don't have the opportunity to travel like I have, and some are just simply comfortable with where they're at, but I challenge you to observe more the next time you go somewhere whether that's to the grocery store, to the next town over, or to the next country over. Make a note of how are things similar to your norms and how things are different. I guarantee you'll learn something!
Traveling has the ability to teach you about yourself. You become more visually aware of your habits by immersing yourself in another culture and by living with different people. You learn about the things that you could change about yourself and how you have the ability to challenge and be challenged by those around you....which is why I know that despite recent events, I must continue to travel: to carry on challenging my way of viewing things literally and metaphorically.
PS - Go to a sporting event in a different country, as I did with the La Boca game in the picture above, and you'll see the most interesting interactions and reactions!