Sometimes I hear this question from people and my answer is never saying the name of the countries I have visited. I always have to start explaining what ´knowing a country` means to me.
I don´t feel comfortable saying that I know some country I have visited for a week, a couple of days or even some few hours. For me knowing a country means you understand different things such as:
- · The weather and geography of it;
- · You have at least an idea of the type of music they like to listen to and dance;
- · Tried many different types of typical food;
- · Learn about different habits;
- · You have learned how to cook at least a few of their typical food;
- · Awareness of how their religious and/or spiritual beliefs work;
- · Learn some of their history;
- · General idea, at least, from the political/economical situation in which the country lives;
- · You have visited some of their touristic and natural places;
- · Participate in local events;
- · You realized the differences between their own culture.
Among others, these are the main ones but not the only.
My question is how can you get to know all this in a week, living in a hotel, going only for touristic places and eating in restaurants?
Map of the countries I have lived/visited
Peru is the third country I am living in and even when I am telling something how it works I make sure I say that this is my experience in this time and in this place.
Generalizing how a country works is very dangerous and can be very inaccurate when you are traveling just for vacations, because even inside of the same country you can find so many differences: different types of food, accents, behaviours, sense of community, awareness and concern for the evironment, etc.
So, for me the only way I will be able to say I know a country is when I get to know many of the things I just said. In this sense, I dare to day I know only three countries and they are Brazil, Venezuela and Peru because I lived in it, and that´s why I decided to work as an international teacher.