Knowing a place’s culture is a lot of work for a short trip. No pressure. It’s a vacation after all. Culture is beautiful in a way that it’s so rich in layers. It can be found in clothing, language, history, etc. Tourists can get a crash course from arranged itineraries of landmarks.
Beyond these tourist destinations lie more nuances. It’s in the way people interact with each other, their preferences, and the places they frequent.
Small businesses are special because they are close to the community. They know the ins-and-outs of how things work around the area. Because of this, they offer products that are influenced by the culture they are tightly associated with.
This would be a great shopping experience for personal items and souvenirs. They offer things that people don’t find in large international outlets. This means that people won’t find the same things in the U.S. as they would in Korea.
There could be custom-made shirts in clothing stores for women that have been woven by locals. There could also be earrings that have been hand-crafted by the owner of the store. For souvenirs, they might be key chains and magnets available that have unique forms, shapes, and designs.
Purchasing from small businesses helps these entrepreneurs thrive. For all its worth, a shirt, a pair of earrings, or a couple of key chains and magnets may just help a family survive another month. You could also be helping them grow into the next biggest brand in the world.
Because small businesses have a more focused customer service, you can have a chat with the owner while shopping. Ask them what you want to know about the city. Ask them about the people and their traditions. Ask their suggestions on your next destination.
Looking at museums from the city tour will give you information about history. There could be artifacts about how their ancestors lived. They would also showcase the best art from prominent artists of the country.
There are also art galleries that are connected to contemporary local artists. They can be artists who are rising stars. There may also be artists who are starting from the grassroots.
This kind of culture is important because it shows a closer depiction of communities in the current day. They portray a personal take that gives people a closer look at culture—far from the canon. It’s raw and updated.
For example, photographers can capture the streets on a regular afternoon. The pictures can show you the city during rush hours. There might be traffic and people walking with their dogs. There could be a vendor selling candies at the corner of a place your tour has never taken you.
Moreover, this would be an act of supporting local artists. This is important because these growing artists could be featured in the museum in the list of tourist destinations. It’s just that, at the moment, they need help.
Quaint Restaurants and Coffee Shops
Back home, there are coffee shops and restaurants that have become part of the people’s palate. In this country or town, there are also establishments that bear the same reputation. These could be small eateries or coffee shops that have withstood the test of time and remained a staple.
They may have a wall of pictures with big personalities visiting the shop from the 60s up to today. They can have a quaint, traditional feel that they have maintained over the years. These are all part of the culture. They reflect that this place, right here, has shaped the taste buds of the people.
Most of all, food has a way of expressing culture. In every country, there are varying delicacies, specialties, and preferences. There are countries that love spicy food. There are countries that prefer fish to meat. There could be times that, for you, the food seems under-seasoned because, in your country, salt is a top ingredient.
Another thing to pay close attention to is the way they act around food. Aside from chopsticks, spoon and fork, or hands, there are unique ways of serving food. An example would be countries that serve food accompanied by traditional dances and songs as part of the dining experience. It’s best to pay attention to these details to avoid exhibiting behaviors that the locals may find disrespectful.
Exploring a new place is exciting. There are a thousand new possibilities and heaps of information to take in. When doing so, remember to wear comfortable shoes and to visit establishments that may just be around the corner.