Thursday, September 8, 2011

CSV: The Culture Shock Vacation

If you live in Europe, or anywhere else in the world where you live in such close proximity to other cultures and languages, you might want to consider a culture shock vacation. A CSV is very different from your average vacation, and certainly not for everyone. It can be an extremely rewarding experience for those brave enough to try it.

Generally, a vacation is thought of as a time to unwind and recharge after a year of slogging away at a job that pays the bills but doesn’t necessarily reward in other ways. However, if you are not someone who is “working for the week-end” and loves what they do, you might want a vacation that challenges and pushes you to your limits, so that the return to home and job is a return to (an even more appreciated) comfort zone.

The culture shock vacation involves taking your family into another country where there is plenty to do and experience, but not in the conventional tourist sense. Choose somewhere where they do not speak a language you do and book an apartment with a kitchen. For the time you are there, try to do life much as the locals would. Go to the grocery store and struggle with the indecipherable labels. Do not use a dictionary, but learn through trial and error. Go to neat places and see the sights, but find people who do not know your languages with whom to interact.

This is a vacation option that our family has been choosing for a few years now, and it is something that we have grown to love. We see neat and new places, but we remind ourselves what it is like to be a stranger in the culture. It is a healthy reminder for anyone who tries to translate culture on a regular basis, but it also is a great way to strengthen our ties to the home we have adopted.

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