Visiting 50 countries is on my bucket list. I’m still at 35. Three more are planned for next Spring.
This picture shows the countries I’ve visited:
Some I’ve visited for hours, some for days, and some for years.
How do I define a visit?
If I sprint through Heathrow airport during a connection to Paris, did I visit England? Can I include that on my list? (I did that, and I didn’t include it.)
This is my rule for inclusion on the list: a conversation, a meal, and a pee. In order to have visited a place, I need to meaningfully talk to someone, eat something, and use the restroom.
In my view, foreign exposure is a range: tourist –> visitor –> resident –> citizen.
I did some research on this topic. One study I co-authored (unpublished) indicated that breadth is more important than depth for developing cultural intelligence (CQ). Visiting multiple countries for a short time each affects CQ more than living in one new country for multiple years.
That is why I visit as many countries as I can. But for each of these countries, I can’t claim cultural expertise after a short visit.
Many people mistakenly generalize. Someone visits the countryside of Ireland for a few days, then tells us how all Europeans prefer darker coffee, or that the European climate is damp. This is an error. One Irish town doesn’t represent Dublin, much less Kiev and Athens.
To understand a place as much as possible in a short time, I engage in three activities:
- Visit a local grocery store, to see how locals sustain themselves.
- Walk around the city in early morning, before the crowds arrive, as shopkeepers prepare for the day.
- Ride pubic transportation. If the country has none, commute the way common people commute.
I challenge you to visit as may places as possible, and to learn as much as you can while there.
As you can see from the map, my exposure to Africa is lacking. If you would like to finance a trip there, please contact me at brock@BrockStout.org. Economy class flights are adequate.
::: Be fierce. Be kind. Be knowledge-hungry. :::