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A Travelling Education

Most travellers find their time abroad a sort of education, in different cultures, places and experiences, and they return home desperate to share their new found knowledge. However, there is one quite seasoned traveller who isn’t entirely sold on the notion of a ‘travelling education’ – and that person is Karl Pilkington.

In 2010 Mr Pilkington was thrust into unchartered waters when he agreed to film the highly successful ‘An Idiot Abroad’, a documentary based on his first experiences of travelling to exotic countries. Since then he’s travelled around the world during a further two series, visiting places such as Egypt, India, China, Japan, and Australia (to name just a few).

Now Karl has set off on a new travelling TV mission, called ‘The Moaning of Life’, which aims to discover how other cultures deal with issues such as death, birth, marriage and children. The title of the new TV series perfectly sums up Pilkington’s approach to travel, because according to a recent interview, it is only after he returns home from his travels that he can appreciate and enjoy the experience.

The series began on Sunday 20th October with an unmarried Karl navigating the subject of marriage, by interviewing couples in India and getting dating advice in Las Vegas. The next episode will explore the subject of happiness, and how people achieve it in different cultures – a subject the grumpy traveller is bound to enjoy. If you want to explore the world from the comfort of your sofa, complete with the unique Pilkington narration, look out for any of his travel documentaries.

Mr Pilkington, although quite unique in his outlook, is actually experiencing something which thousands of travellers experience every year – culture shock. As the name implies, culture shock is a feeling of disorientation when visiting a new country and experiencing a culture very different to your own. This can happen to any traveller, no matter how experienced, and can feel quite overwhelming. For example, in An Idiot Abroad, Karl is utterly shocked when he sees the things other cultures eat as delicacies, for example insects, so he always ensure he packs packets of crisps for every subsequent trip!

Culture shock isn’t something you can really plan against, as you never know exactly how you will feel or what you will experience when you arrive at your destination. However, the best way to prepare is to make sure you do plenty of research before your trip. For example, look into the types of foods people eat, is there a great divide between poverty and wealth, what will you see as you walk through the streets? The best way to do this is to search for blogs and articles by travellers who have been to your destination, as they will usually write honestly about their experiences.

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