I have been to several countries as travelling and exploring new countries, their nature and their people always was a kind of temptation and challenge for me.
Of course I tried to prepare myself as carefully as possible. I read through the available literature, interviewed people who have been there already or citizens of those countries who for any reason happened to visit my home town and so on.
So I felt quite well prepared when I started my trips. But when I came there my impression was different from what I expected to experience.
Why did this happen? And why did it happen again and again?
I think this difference is caused by our way of perceiving the world. We focus on contrast, on difference. We don’t pay much attention to the obvious commonalities. Instead all reports on foreign, “strange” countries focused on the exceptional, the sensational but quite rarely on the day-by-day life of the common people, on the little things.
I therefore quite often found myself being surprised of the quite normal bourgeois or middle class life going on where I was prepared to find extremes only.
So I learned, that in order to understand a country you have to go there and watch it from inside.
Regardless of all preparation efforts – it will look different.