“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
Have you ever dreamed of traveling the world, gaping in awe at faraway lands, speaking exotic languages, and experiencing other cultures? Sometimes it’s not always possible to leave home because of finances, responsibilities, and other limitations.
What to do? Never fear. You can still have a love affair with the world right from your own hometown. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
1.) Make friends with those a little bit different than your family, usual friends, or neighbors.
Consider starting conversations with those from different ethnic or religious backgrounds. They could be much richer or much poorer economically than you or they may have wildly different hobbies (e.g. skydiving, studying ancient Greek, playing Punjabi music, etc.) than is the norm in your town. Of course, it goes without saying that it helps if you are open-minded, non judgmental, and respectful even if you don’t personally agree with their beliefs.
2.) Help foreigners and immigrants feel more at home by showing them the best sights from a local’s point of view.
Trust me, if and when you get a chance to go on your own trip abroad, you will be most grateful for the same treatment as well. Plus it is always nice to see your everyday haunts through new and enthusiastic eyes.
3.) Be flexible.
So you don’t have the time or money to take that dream cruise to Jamaica? Why not find a city or town close by that you’ve never been to before? Look online for the websites and books that foreigners read when they come to your part of the world and finally see what you have been missing all these years.
4.) Listen to the music, eat the food, dance the dances, and learn the languages of other cultures.
You can do this on your own, with a friend or friends, or by taking a class or visiting festivals and other events going on around town.
5.) Start speaking in tongues.
The Internet makes it so much easier these days to chat with people from all corners of the globe. You can also take language learning to a new, more interactive level by joining language exchange groups and Skyping with others to have real conversations in real time.
6.) Read a book.
I recently used to read a few pages of Out of Africa in my favorite Roman coffee bar every day before work. It made such a strong impression on me and I didn’t know when, if, or how I would ever get back to Africa again in my lifetime. In any case, it was just nice to read about other people’s experiences living in foreign lands. That was two years ago and actually I recently got to teach animation for two weeks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. So you never know when you might become the protagonist of your own story abroad.
7.) Get active no matter where you are planted!
So you can’t be on the ground helping poor children in developing countries because of time or money? Why not sponsor a child from a country of your choice instead with a high quality nonprofit organization or charity? (I recommend Children International where I sponsor children in Guatemala.) You can also volunteer with organizations that work around the world from the comfort of your home office and computer.
8.) Go postal.
Is your letterbox hungry for more than just bills and junk mail? Fabulous initiative Postcrossing (www.postcrossing.com) enables you to receive postcards from random people all over the world.
The sky’s the limit and the world is your oyster, even if you’ve never set foot on an airplane or you live thousands of miles away from the nearest ocean. “Bloom where you are planted” and be an amazing global citizen wherever you already find yourself. Life is very much a “you get out of it what you put into it” sort of deal.
Why not reboot your life, add a bit of zest and adventure to your daily routine, and try one, two, or all of these suggestions wherever and whenever it suits you?
Do you have other suggestions for being a global citizen right from the comfort of your hometown? If so please add them to the comments.
These tips are adapted from Chapter 1: Bringing the World to You from my new book with co-author Jacqueline Seidel, Free At Last: Live, Love and Work Abroad as a 21st Century Global Citizen. Learn more and download a free sample from Amazon.