Following on from the last blog, let’s have a look at what would surprise me upon visiting Florida. If I may say so myself, I would call myself a “greenie”. I have always been conscious of my impact on the environment. I even started an Environment club at high school! As a kid, I had been exposed to visits to many national parks and splashed in many secluded beaches. It has always been a number one priority of our family, to leave absolutely no evidence of our use of the space. That means taking all our rubbish with us and not disturbing the native animals. I think it is part of Australian culture (and also vigorous campaigns) to keep the environment clean and that is an innate part of being a global citizen. In Florida, there are campaigns that are still being pursued because visitors do not respect the natural environment. This would surprise me because I have always thought that people were better and cleaned up after themselves. Come on, it’s the 21st century!!
When you visit a foreign land (especially a developing country) with different cultures, their ways of doing certain things may surprise you. But as an open-minded traveler, you will be conscious that you will be in for an adventure and that this is only temporary. Of course, you are not immune to being surprised but at least if you have prior hints it could aid you when you arrive in a foreign land.
Furthermore, as a smarter traveller you would do your research and try to learn about different things that may surprise you. Pre-departure planning can lead to anticipation and expectations that could have negative impacts, but I believe that it could be positive in helping you be aware of the possible surprising elements of a culture.
You may have noticed that I used “surprise” rather than “shock”. This is an intentional choice because I feel the emotional baggage attached to the latter is strong and does not suit how I feel a traveler may experience a new culture. An interesting topic regarding travel is this idea of “culture shock”. This term was coined in 1960 by Kalvero Oberg, however its relevance to short-term travelers is often debated. Cultural confusion and intercultural adaptation are proposed terms to describe the experiences of a traveler when encountering a new culture. As discussed in Hotolla (2004), the perspective of a traveler’s journey are moulded through the first few days. An intensive process of learning amidst jetlag and euphoria can create confusion that may have either positive or negative outcomes that impact on the rest of the journey.