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While books, films and especially the internet are excellent sources and also the quickest way to help people discover and learn about a new culture, they are not comparable to the actual experience of travelling to and living at that place for an extended period of time. The following essay aims to prove such claim.
It is undeniable that the information depicted in books, films and on the internet is plentiful and rich in describing a certain target culture. One can easily get a fairly good glimpse of what the place and its native people look like, and what they customarily do as a reflection of their unique culture through the images portrayed in such sources. However, that is as far as one can claim he or she knows about that culture.
It takes more than being able to describe certain geographical features, the people, and some popular practices and rituals of an indigenous place to truly claim one understands that culture. One must instead be able to discover why things and people look the way they are, and why such traditional practices and rituals are performed and honoured.
Moreover, what can never be conveyed or captured in books, films, or the internet are the emotional values and their significance to the native people behind each and every so-called “bizarre” cultural practice or ritual that might puzzle anyone reading about or seeing it in books or films. It takes being there to experience a deeper personal connection and gain an understanding of a culture one is fascinated with, beyond one’s normal senses and intuition.
Therefore, unless certain constraints such as financial ability and time affordability force people to resort to quickly and easily accessible resources such as books, films and the internet to learn about a new culture they are intrigued with, the most fulfilling way to discover a new culture is to travel to that place and open themselves up to fully experience all what it has to offer. It is as rewarding as it is fascinating.
Special thanks to Mr. Nghi