I’ve had this idea for some time.
You see, my husband and I looooovvveeeee to learn about + experience other cultures.
I mean, we met while he was a naval cryptologist in Japan, and I was studying abroad. Together we’ve been to Japan, Austria, Alaska, and Cozumel (among other locations), and we have plans for lots more travel in our days.
And before getting married, we separately traveled to Singapore, Spain, England, Scotland, Wales, Paris, Geneva, and a host of other locations.
Traveling abroad can really add up (though travel hacking certainly helps with this; go ahead and Swagbucks search that term). Not to mention, we also have time constraints (hello 9-5 job + full-time college + 8-month old baby!).Traveling abroad can really add up (though travel hacking certainly helps with this). Click To Tweet
So even though we’d love to prance around Europe, or putz around Asia in our spare hours, we can’t always do so.
That doesn’t mean we have to give up our passion for culture, though.
In the meantime, we sort of do these informal cultural studies where we netflix movies + documentaries about a country, read books on it, go to ethnic food stores here in Houston having to do with that country, etc.
Yeah…writing that out makes it sound geeky, but I swear it’s super cool.
An Example: Our Russian Cultural Study
To give you an idea, two years ago we were hooked on soaking up Russia. Paul has actually visited there while in the Navy, but I haven’t.
It didn’t matter though, because we could still experience the culture together in our area.
Over the course of several, concentrated months, we:
- DVR’d several documentaries on Russia’s history to watch together including documentaries on the Romanovs, Stalin, and Apocalypse: World War I.
- Netflixed and watched Doctor Zhivago, The Hunt for Red October, K19: The Widow Maker, etc.
- Watched Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown: Russia.
- Visited our local Russian General Store (oddly enough we happen to have one just two miles up the road. If you can imagine a store that sells Soviet-era looking dried fish, then you get the picture).
- Visited a free photo exhibit of Soviet Ukraine in WWII at our local Holocaust museum.
See, all those things separately spaced out over the years don’t add up to something cool necessarily.
But together, it was like exploring a new culture. Our knowledge built, and our excitement grew each time we found something new we could do together to learn about Russia.
We still remember it fondly!
This brings me back to my newest idea: Nordic Cultural Date Night.
I’m Planning a Nordic Cultural Date Night
I’ve had this idea for awhile, and am stoked to try it out (my husband will be surprised!).
It all started when I made a trip to Marshall’s several months ago and found a glass bottle of water bottled in Norway (Brand: Voss) for 50% off (without even having to use a marshalls coupon).
Then I remembered how IKEA has that really cool food area with all kinds of Swedish prepackaged foods.
So I purchased the water, then set off to peruse IKEA’s food area to see if I could buy an interesting spread of foods for us to try. I found all kinds of cool things!
- TÅRTA CHOKLADKROKANT: “An almond cake with chocolate, butter cream and butterscotch”
- DRYCK BUBBEL ÄPPLE & LINGON: Sparkling Apple and Lingonberry drink
- LASAGNE LAX: Frozen Salmon Lasagna
I also borrowed The Nordic Cookbook from our library and found several interesting recipes I can try (including: Sweet-and-Sour Braised Red Cabbage from Sweden, Finnish Carrot Casserole, and Danish Boiled Meatballs in Curry Cream Sauce).
Then, I looked on Netflix and found a cool-sounding series, Lilyhammer, about an ex-mafia guy starting over in Norway.
Sounds like the kickoff to another cultural study to me!
So how about it? Could you and your partner incorporate cultural studies as a way to explore something together (in between jetting the globe for real)? What countries/cultures would you like to experience?