Date published: March 12, 2018
Here There and Everywhere
One World Week is a week-long celebration of different cultures.
As part of One World Week, we've asked some of our students to write us a guest blog post about where they’re from, their culture and their experiences at Salford.
Today we're featuring a blog post from Paige, a student from the UK.
To introduce myself, my name is Paige, I am 20 years-old and I live in the UK. More specifically, Manchester.
Now you may be thinking the UK isn't the most exotic place in the world and you are mostly correct in thinking that. However, we now have a more diverse country than ever before. In fact, now more brits are taking the plunge and going travelling we have a lot more culture than you would expect.
I grew up in a very British village, with no diversity, learning about how England conquered the world. In the beginning, I was almost oblivious of the ‘made in china labels’ or the ‘shipped from overseas’. Of course, I knew a few things about other countries and different histories but it wasn’t until I began R.E in high school that I started to gain interest in other cultures and became eager to explore outside of my little village.
I loved the food we had taken in as our own, such as Chicken Korma, Sweet and sour chicken and tantalising burritos. But what plagued me was who made these things, where did they originate from and what was it like there.
So, from what started as a simplistic idea, such as ordering a takeaway or buying some new clothes, turned into a journey that for me, will last a lifetime. This is how I started on my journey to exploring culture.
Now, don’t get me wrong I had been abroad quite a few times as a kid to Spain, France and even Florida. However, it wasn’t until I was a little bit older and a lot more informed about the world that I began to crave going to more countries and experiencing more cultures. I remember begging my parents for years to go to Turkey as I had seen these amazing photographs in a travel magazine and I wanted to know more about the place. Luckily for me, there was an amazing deal on a villa there, so we went!
That trip was an eye opener, we saw catacombs, Sulfur pools and met some amazing people in the Turkish markets. Everyone was very welcoming and they were eager to teach us about their culture. Plus, because we went during Ramadan we could learn about what it means to be Muslim and what the loud religious callings every morning and evening were for.
After this trip, we decided to open ourselves to more places outside of the EU. One of our favourite trips was to the Greek Island of Rhodes, where we tucked into Moussaka, Baklava and a lot of Greek salad. We again made quite a few local friends this trip and one guy called Alec took us to all the local shops, restaurants and places of interest. This trip was special as in Greece everyone was so warm and inviting and they took us in like one of their own. We danced and sung all day and night with them and it was heart-breaking to leave.
A few years later and I was ready to travel the world on my own. First stop was somewhere a little less adventurous but still fun, New York! The big apple was everything I thought it would be and more. Plus, I was quite surprised by how different the American culture actually was. Everyone there seemed so sure of themselves and enthusiastic to see others achieving. It was actually a huge confidence boost and is something I now try to be a little bit more like. On this trip, I also got to see the Ellen show live in Rockefeller which was possibly one of the greatest moments ever. That aside, in America I learnt the importance of self-love and working hard for what you want…after all they have the ‘American dream’.
Onto my most recent trips, I visited Dubrovnik in Croatia over Summer and we went to visit the old city. I found it interesting that a wall that was once built to keep people out, was now an attraction that brought people in. The culture here was almost preserved perfectly, with most locals not knowing a single sentence in English. I enjoyed this because it meant for once we had to make the effort to communicate with them, something that hadn’t really happened in any other country I had visited. This made me value the art of language and realise how important it is to read up on other cultures, even learning some of the language before you visit. In this case, we managed to get by and even picked up a few sentences in Croatian, much to the approval of the locals.
Finally, to the future. I will be travelling to Thailand very soon. This will be interesting as I will get to find out what life is like in predominantly Buddhist community. I was always fascinated by Theravada Buddhism in school and for years I have wanted to visit the Wat Muang monastery to see the giant golden Buddha statue. So finally, I will be able to go and hopefully learn more about meditation and Buddhism. I am also interested in visiting the elephant sanctuary in Phuket to learn about the conservation of animals like elephants and why these amazing animals are such an important part of their culture.
As Mahama Gandhi noted: ‘A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.’ So, next time you go travelling, enjoy the sightseeing, the food and the wildlife but also remember the people. Speak to them, learn from them and heck if you want to, even dance with them! No holiday I have been on was made by the things I saw and did, it was made by the friends I made and the people I met. Without travelling, I may still have been in that small village mentality, which is why I think exploring and finding other cultures is a really important thing to do.