Over the summer of 2015, I was selected to travel to China for two weeks through a program sponsored by my father’s company, BASF! Hands down this adventure was the best experience of my life. Let me tell you a little more about my journey before I get into my top 3 tips on how to have a successful trip overseas.
My experience in China exposed me to an entirely new world, one that I knew existed, but knew little about. Embracing the culture and the local food in China opened my palate to a whole new league of cuisine which yielded a delicious adventure. Additionally, I marveled at popular tourist spots like the Great Wall of China near Beijing and the massive metropolis that is Shanghai. Moreover, my host family shared their local culture through excursions to the Humble Administrator’s Garden in Suzhou and a Confucian Temple in their home city of Nanjing
Now, my first tip is to be fearless, especially when it comes to the food. To put it bluntly, food in a foreign country can be intimidating. In China I was introduced to bizarre parts of animals I’d never before seen on a menu like duck heart, ox tendon, and jellyfish. Don’t be afraid to try something new because you never know, you may like it!
My second tip is to try your best to interact with the locals. Despite a language barrier, interacting with locals is optimal to have the most authentic cultural experience. The Chinese family that I stayed with shared spoke english (except for the mother). They shared their local culture with me as we went to several local restaurants. Additionally, they took me to places that aren’t really considered “tourist hotspots,” like the Confucian Temple and the Humble Administrator's Garden.
My third tip is keep a journal. It is definitely the most effective way to keep track of each day’s adventures. It is very overwhelming when you travel abroad as your days are usually jam packed with activities. So, keeping a journal is a great way to keep track of all your activities so you won’t forget them. Additionally, to go along with the journal, don’t forget to take a lot of pictures!
All in all, don’t forget to have fun and you’ll have a great time learning about yourself and a new culture, just as I did in China!