Night is sinking in, the sky is cloudless and the stars are shining. It’s moist and warm. The moon lights, the white sand and the sea. Reggae is pounding to the air. The air is thickening with the smell of burning gasoline and the fire is spinning wilder and wilder. The audience is filled with tourists holding their breath and whispering silent “wows”. I know the fire dancer. I don’t feel like a part of the audience anymore. I’m part of the show. When the show ends and the applause starts, I’m proud. Proud of knowing the performer. Another perfect show. I’m not feeling anymore like a regular tourist. I know a local, I feel slightly local too.
The feeling is incredible when you get into a new country, even a little bit. When you make friends you will get closer to the locals and you will see a lot more than the basic tourists. Imagine a window. As a regular tourist you will stay outside the glass. You can see but you’re separated from the locals. Like watching everything behind a glass. When you know locals or even live longer in a new country you will get inside the glass. The glass breaks. You will see the real life.
When you live in a country for more than one month you start to feel like a local. You go to the same store to buy groceries and you buy toilet paper like you do at home. The locals start recognizing you and their attitudes change towards more accepting.
You feel like one of them.
You will get even deeper if you work in another country. I have worked twice and I feel like I learned a lot not only about the country but also about myself. Trying to manage in a new country you will challenge yourself. Let alone if you don’t speak the language.
You can start your journey by learning the few most important sentences from the language of the country. Then gather all your courage and go to a bar filled with locals and start bantering. Start with the few words you know and they will appreciate that you tried.
You will get your eyes opened. Wide.
I’m from a western country and I once asked my thai friend who lives in a small place on the countryside, if he could have all the money in the world where would he travel. He’s short answer was “Nowhere, this place is my home. All my friends and family are here”. To me that was unbelieveable, in my country in Finland everybody dreams of seeing the world.
Feeling of being a part of something is what we all want. Being part of a new community is why you should put the effort in and travel, get into a new country. You will face different perspectives of life and new values. You might get suprised how black and white you see things. You will get new colors to your life.
If you always stay as a normal tourist you will never see how the locals live the real life. You won’t get invited to the dinner tables of old grannies trying to get you to eat the whole foot of a chicken. You will also miss the secret hideaways, best places to go out and the most revolting delicacies that every country has.
In that fire show the tourists were outside the glass watching the show but I was inside.
That is an amazing feeling and I wish everybody could feel it at least once in their life.