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It is difficult to experience a country fully as a tourist in a hotel. To appreciate and understand a country, a person needs to live there. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

People are travelling more today than ever before. However, short term visitors simply do not have the time needed to fully understand a country. I agree that to truly experience and appreciate a country a person needs to live there for a period longer than that of the typical tourist. This will be shown by looking at how knowledge of a country’s customs and language, two cornerstones to understanding any nation in depth, requires time to be developed.

For one, to understand a country’s values and beliefs, a person must be exposed to its customs, a process that demands time. For example, while living in the UAE, I had the privilege of attending a local wedding, a traditional camel race, and a birthday with my Emirati friend. In the cool of the late evening at each of these events, guests were served spiced camel meat and medjool dates, staple foods that sustained generations of people in such barren landscape. Had I only been visiting the UAE as a tourist, I would not have had the time needed to have such insights into Emirati cuisine and lifestyle. Thus, living in a country is a necessary precursor to fully experiencing it.

Language is yet another avenue through which so much understanding can be derived. While living in China, for instance, I managed to pick up the basics of the Chinese language. Among other things, this allowed me to see that Chinese culture puts extreme emphasis on face. For instance, in China it is the custom to refuse a gift several times before accepting. As I could only make this fundamental observation after committing time to learning the language, it is clear that a country really does need to be lived in to be fully appreciated.

To conclude, although tourists receive a basic introduction to a region and its peoples, thorough understanding of a country is best achieved when one commits to living there.

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