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Rick Steves: “Become a temporary European”

This article was originally posted on Expatica’s website, written by renown travel author Rick Steves.

It’s targeted more towards travelers abroad but has relevant implications for expats as well, especially those recently settling in. Excerpts below. How do you think it is best to adapt to your new country?

…Once you figure out where the locals hang, check out where they live. Ride a city bus or subway into the suburbs, then wander through some neighbourhoods to see how residents live when they’re not wearing lederhosen and yodelling. Visit a supermarket. Make friends at the launderette. Or mill around area schools and universities, checking out the announcement boards and eating at the cafeteria. Be alert and a little bit snoopy. If you stumble onto a grade-school talent show, sit down and watch it. You can even visit a university’s English-language department and ask about hiring a student (who’s learning English) as a private guide.

Even if you’re not a regular churchgoer, consider attending a European worship service. An hour in a small-town church provides an unbeatable peek into the community, especially if you join them for coffee and cookies afterwards. I’ll never forget going to a little church on the south coast of Portugal one Easter. A tourist stood at the door videotaping the “colourful natives” (including me) shaking hands with the priest after the service. You can experience St. Peter’s by taking photographs, or you can do it by taking a seat at Mass…

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