If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try. – Seth Godin
Since you are reading this web page, you apparently speak English, so you are already well prepared to travel to many countries of the world. Also you know the Latin alphabet, so you can read the street names and road signs, restaurant menus and the destinations of trains and buses in North and South America, central and southern Africa, Western Europe, Australia and small parts of Asia. That’s already a lot, but it leaves out some of the most fascinating people and cultures on our planet, so with this challenge we encourage you to venture out into “the rest of the world” and experience a rich variety of customs, traditions and cultural history.
When you cannot read the alphabet you have even more reasons to get in touch with the people — even if you have to talk with your hands and feet when asking for directions, food or accommodation. It might feel strange at the beginning, but it works, and we assure you that you will gather some unforgettable experiences and will grow personally.
To get an idea of what a trip like this might feel like, use the language selector in the top-right of this page and select Arabic, Armenian, Bulgarian, Greek, Hindi, Tamil, Thai, etc. Aren’t these beautiful? Post in the comments below which alphabet you find most fascinating.
What You’ll Need
- Travel to a country with a different alphabet than the one you grew up with. Slīghtlÿ dîfferèñt dœsn’t cøuńt!
- Motivation and will to dive into a foreign culture.
- Know that you might feel lost from time to time.
- Courage to approach the locals and ask for help.
Steps to Success
- Be inquisitive and open.
- Learn a few words of the local language (your guidebook should have a list of the most important words and phrases): greeting phrases, yes, no, the numbers up to 10, the words for getting around, ordering food, etc. The locals will be thrilled to hear you trying to communicate with them.
- To make your trip easier follow these steps:
- Start with with a country with a well-established tourist infrastructure (Thailand, India).
- Use a dictionary or a translation app for your smartphone. Some apps even have voice recognition or pronounce the foreign phrases for you. Choose an app which functions offline also.
- For the first 2-3 days organize a paid guide to help you.
- Get extra points: Find a local person to accompany you for a couple of days and show you his or her culture.
- A different alphabet usually means that the local culture is also different from yours. There might be inappropriate or even offensive gestures or behaviors that you don’t know about, so study our country portraits or your travel book before the trip.
- Not being able to read the street names and local signs, you will probably feel a bit insecure and might need the help of locals more often. So it’s even more important to select the right people to ask for help or advice. Use common sense and stick to trustworthy (usually older) people as well as shop keepers. Avoid people who are very eager to guide you or show you around.
Coming Soon: Add this Challenge to Your User Profile!
Take a few pictures or a short video of you working on the challenge. After you are finished log into your account and click on “Submit a Challenge Attempt.” If our members find that you did a good job, they’ll vote for your attempt.
We’ll consider any attempt with 25 or more votes as successfully completed, and will add it to your user profile. This way you can share your unforgettable experiences with anyone and serve as inspiration for them!