Dr. Orien Tulp, founder and president of the University of Science, Arts and Technology (USAT), provides insights into cultural immersion and how this practice helps individuals obtain lifelong benefits from their international travels. 

Stepping outside of your comfort zone by traveling abroad allows you to enrich your life by experiencing new cultures. As the president of the University of Science, Arts, and Technology (USAT) Medical School, Dr. Tulp has spent plenty of time outside the continental United States. He recommends that Americans embrace the concept of cultural immersion when traveling to another country.

Let's explore why cultural immersion is so important when traveling abroad and why you should embrace the nuances of the communities and people you visit during your travels. 

What Is Cultural Immersion?

Cultural immersion is the process of integrating yourself into a different culture to better understand how natives live, interact, and communicate. 

During a traditional vacation, American travelers merely dip a toe into the culture they are visiting. They may attend a local show, patronize a small dining establishment, or take a walking tour of the city. But at the end of the day, they return back to their hotel, pull out their phones, and resume their normal routine as if they never left home.

On the other hand, cultural immersion forces you to purposefully eat, live, and commute like the locals. A few ways to immerse in the local culture around you include:

● Researching social norms, greetings, and traditions before visiting

● Using public transportation

● Putting your phone away and enjoying the experience

With a little preparation and awareness, your next expedition outside the country can be an enriching and memorable experience.

Why You Must Immerse Yourself in the Society You Are Visiting 

If you do not embrace the concept of cultural immersion, you will be stuck in a tourist mentality for the duration of your trip. It may sound pleasant, but a tourist merely observes the sights, sounds, and smells of the world they visit - they do not become a part of the world around them. Conversely, an individual that has taken a deep dive into the community will be enriched and changed by the experience.

Reevaluating how you approach your vacations can help you become more open-minded, well-rounded, and accepting. Furthermore, you can apply the lessons you learn on your trip to your daily life when you return from your adventure. More importantly, Dr. Orien Tulp believes that cultural immersion allows you to shed preconceived notions that would otherwise hinder your ability to enjoy and show empathy toward different cultures. As he puts it, "Cultural immersion allows you to shed unconscious biases and prejudices, thereby enabling you to fully appreciate the richness of the community and peoples around you."

So the next time you are traveling, leave your phone in your bag and engage with the world around you! You'll thank yourself for it later.

About Orien Tulp

Dr. Orien Tulp is a distinguished professor, author, and medical researcher and the founder and President of the University of Science, Arts and Technology (USAT) Medical School. He is a career military veteran and dedicated volunteer who has served on hundreds of medical civic action mission teams in the USA and abroad.

Dr. Tulp earned a BS, MS, and Ph.D. from the University of Vermont, followed by NIH-sponsored post-graduate studies specializing in Nutrition, Endocrinology, and Metabolism at the Clinical Research Center of the University of Vermont College of Medicine. He is also a graduate of the Vermont Military Academy. He has served in leadership and academic roles throughout his career, including a professorship at Drexel University in Philadelphia and at the University of Science, Arts, and Technology in Montserrat for almost four decades.