How To Be a Foreigner in Your Own Country

Let me say first that there’s nothing wrong with travelling abroad or locally. There’s also nothing wrong with not travelling at all at any given time. As they say, we all have our preferences and priorities. Sometimes, however, people take it to a point where they become aliens in their own locale by not exploring or learning more about it even in the smallest ways. Here are a few instances.

Not learning how to prepare at least one local food

Image credit: dbgg1979

Not eating local food is one thing. Not knowing how to at least cook or prepare one is another. I actually find it ironic that the first time I learned how to cook adobo, I was living in Vietnam and ended up reading cooking instructions I found online. I could’ve easily learnt the best way to do it (and even added a few secret touches) had I paid more attention to cooking time in our own kitchen.

Don’t be like me. Instead, make an effort to actually know the basics of preparing local dishes as early as you can. Besides knowing more about our country’s native culinary techniques and ingredients, it’s also the best way to introduce our culture to other nationalities when you’re in another country.

Not visiting at least one historical site or museum

Image credit: Joelaldor

You may not be the biggest fan of museums (like me), but haven’t you ever felt a sense of pride or enlightenment when you finally got to visit one when you were once required in school? I sure did.

It’s true that you can’t learn and appreciate everything even by visiting multiple sites many times, but the handful of information you have can potentially be more powerful than you think. Just treat it as travelling back in time. You get to see what life was for our ancestors back in the day and you can learn a lot from it. Alongside holding pieces of information in written, video or audio forms, museums and historical sites also offer a largely visual experience that makes learning easier.

Not hearing or reading current local events

Not knowing about past events is bad enough. What I’ve noticed with most foreigners I’ve interacted with locally and abroad is that they seemed to know a lot about what’s happening in their respective countries. Somehow, it made me think about how much I knew about what’s going on in the Philippines. With both traditional and new media platforms we have today, there’s almost no excuse for lacking knowledge about the most pressing issues in the country.

Not experiencing any mode of public transportation

Our country’s public transportation system may not be as advanced as those in other countries like Japan, but riding on one gives you a glimpse of what city or rural folks have to deal with on an everyday basis. It opens your eyes to the conditions of our country, no matter how good or bad they are, and challenges you to be involved in whatever way you can.

Besides, you’ll be surprised at how much fun it is riding on a tricycle, a habal-habal or a jeepney especially in the provinces, where the air is less polluted, the roads are less crowded, and the views are something you won’t normally see in the big city.

Not going out as often and immersing in local communities

Image credit: Icqgirl

Every time we hear the word “travel” or “explore”, chances are we start to think of booking a flight to somewhere far, spending thousands of money and being on leave for more than a couple of days. It doesn’t have to be that way all the time.

Who says you can’t go out for a walk from your house even for an hour on a weekend? Or from your workplace to explore more options for lunch or a snack? When the weather permits, of course, and the neighbourhood doesn’t pose any particular danger, give it a try. You may be pleased to see how much you’ve been missing, and that your new favourite hangout place happened to be just around the corner all along.

Also read: Pilipino Ka Kung… (Travel Edition)

As you can see, it doesn’t take much to be a complete stranger in our very own country. But good for us, it also doesn’t require an enormous effort to get to know more about it while we can. What do you think?

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