A while back when I was researching a trip to Paris, I came across a list of ways that you can look less like a tourist, to fit in. And at the time, I took note of the article (or listicle whatever), you don’t want to stand out like those other tourists. You’re not a tourist. You’re a traveller. And that distinction is the same one that people use with readers. “Oh I’m not any reader. See my bookshelf? See all those classics?” It’s the holier-than-thou of readers. It’s stupid. And once I realised this, I decided that it’s okay to look like a tourist. Because that’s what you are.
At a time in my Japanese school assemblies, I ended up right in the middle of the whole assembly. Smack Dab in the middle. And I didn’t have dark hair either. I stood out, even if I wasn’t tall enough to. And at the time I hated it. Because yeah, stick the foreign girl in the middle to even out the image or whatever. All through my time in Japan one of the things that stick out to me is the amount of times we tried to “do it the Japanese way.” We didn’t want to be distinguishable from the Japanese. And now, looking back, I see how stupid it is. We were different. And that’s okay.
When I go to the UK next month, I’m going to be holding a giant map 2 inches in front of my face if I have to because there is nothing wrong with not being native. When we go to places with a high percentage of races other than our own, we are going to stand out. As long as you’re being respectful of the culture, anyone who cares doesn’t matter. (and anyone who matters doesn’t mind)
It’s okay to immerse yourself in the culture, but there’s nothing wrong with standing out.
Get Reading. Get Travelling.
Question: where was the last place you visited where you stuck out like a sore thumb?