Costa Maya, Mexico

We all love going on vacation, right? In class, we daydream about our spring breaks and plan where we will go with our friends. Maybe you are planning on studying abroad—winter break in Japan or a semester in Ireland. If you plan to travel far, learning about the country’s culture is important.

While traveling with my family in Costa Maya Mexico, I learned the importance of researching a country. Costa Maya is a beautiful seaside tourist region. Many tourists travel here to swim in crystal clear waters or to learn about the Chacchoben Maya Ruins. As I was relaxing on the beach, a couple of Costa Mayans approached the group of people I was sitting near. They were performing a traditional dance. While watching the dance the Americans I was sitting next to, were laughing and judging. This upset me. How could you travel to another country and laugh at their customs? A couple minutes passed and a little girl walked up to the dancers. As she looked at their faces her eyes widened with excitement. She pointed at her mother and proceeded to take a picture with the dancer. You could tell this meant so much to her and her family.

Negative reactions to other cultures can inadvertently offend the locals. Of course, there is such a thing as culture shock. Seeing or experiencing customs that someone is not used to can be frustrating or shocking. This is why it is important to research beforehand. Research the history, geography, religion, values, and politics. Understanding these to some extent will prevent disrespect. Keeping an open mind can foster learning and create a better traveling experience.

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