Don’t think you have to travel vast distances to experience a different culture.
I am writing this in Girona, a relatively small university city an hour or so north of Barcelona and around 50k south of the French border. We are just at the end of a month spent here, as an experiment to see what – at the age of 62 – we (my wife, Jan and I) could gain from the experience, before we committed to a year….or so.
After just 28 days, knowing that it could be for a longer period, your mindset changes from holiday mode to how would we spend our time and meagre resources. We started by learning a little Spanish in preparation only to find that they speak Catalan which is, weirdly, different. Speak with other Spanish people ask about Galicia and Andulusia and more language versions appear. With that comes cultural differences. Suddenly you realise you know so little about the history of the country e.g. The impact of the amazingly recent civil war and the dictatorship of Franco until his death in 1975.
Even trying to adapt to the Spanish daily regime……lunch from 1.30 to around 3.00 and restaurants serving dinner from 9.00 onwards. This all adds to differences that you need to accommodate. Shops closing at 1.00 and reopening at 5.00 until 9.00.
Changing your eating habits. No meat for 4 weeks, but the most amazing selection of fish, many species of which I have never seen before. Eating sea urchins, in season, for the first time! Tomatoes, don’t get me started. When was the last time you ate tomatoes that tasted of tomatoes! Coffee and local wine at half the price of the U.K. (by the way that’s where we come from).
I’ll stop here because it’s just goes on. That’s before you have ventured away from the coast and explored the ‘inner’ Spain.
We all go off on our one or two week holiday looking for ‘new’. Many of us feel we need to travel vast distances to get ‘different’. Try nearer to home and just do it for longer.