Cultural Connection

Hello, Hola, Ni Hao, Ciao, Privet, Hallo, Konnichiwa, Aloha, Guten Tag, Bonjour, Al Salaam Aliykum…..

Being in an unknown environment can sometimes be scary. As a tennis player, you may find yourself in a new city or foreign country with an unknown language, and a culture to which you’re unaccustomed. This might seem overwhelming and intimidating, however it is also an opportunity for growth and discovery.

Every tournament across the globe provides the possibility to explore life beyond the tennis courts and learn about other cultures. Learning about new cultures makes us more appreciative of diversity and allows for an improved and more satisfying connection to other people, which fosters greater emotion and social intelligence. It sparks curiosity and creativity, allowing for your mind to expand and develop increased knowledge, ideas, and inspiration. It leads to greater global awareness, an appreciation that within the huge diversity of humankind, there are multiple shared experiences, and it will broaden your understanding of self and others.

“Appreciation of cultural diversity is essential for our co-existence.”
– Lailah Gifty Akita (Author)

Physiologically speaking, we humans are similar creatures, however, our greatest difference lies within our thoughts and beliefs, how we perceive and react to the world. Our beliefs and thoughts are the collection of our experiences, culture, environmental surroundings, relationships, and upbringing. Understanding that society is a composition of unique individuals, it can be expected that you will encounter beliefs and thoughts different than your own. Investigate your beliefs and listen openly to those who present a truth different than your own, you don’t need to agree in order to be respectful.WTA Physically Speaking Cultural Connection

Adapting to specific cultural differences, including thought, when traveling is important in showing cultural awareness and respect. For example, if entering a church in Europe it is considered respectful to wear a top with sleeves to cover your shoulders; in the Middle East, it is proper to adopt a more modest style when in public places. It is also important to be an ambassador of your own culture and country when traveling. Representing your country of origin with dignity and honor will encourage others to visit your country and experience all it has to offer.

A greater understanding of how people think requires an openness to exploring new cultures and a willingness to immerse yourself in an unfamiliar environment. Initiating the first step into a new culture is the hardest part, but after that first step you will discover learn more about life, our vast and wonderful world, and more about yourself.

One of the best ways to experience a culture is through its food. Although there are various food choices and ways of eating, all countries use food to represent their culture and to interact and connect with each other. Even though the ingredients differ, every country has one thing in common- a love for food and the sharing of food/mealtimes with others.

Traditional cuisines are passed down from one generation to the next as an expression of cultural identity. We grow up eating the food of our culture, we are able to associate specific foods with memories of celebrations and of the people who prepared it. Food unites us, affording us the opportunity to embrace the heritage of the culture we are within. Trying country-specific cuisines can give you a greater appreciation and understanding of the culture as well as performance benefits. Incorporating healthy international cuisines or ingredients to your performance meal plan is a great way to add variety and maximize your fueling for performance. Exploring the countless food choices in other countries can lead to great discoveries, you may uncover a new favorite food! For cultural dishes that help boost performance, check out the WTA recipe card series as well as Physically Speaking topic “Travel Nutrition”.


  • Research the country you are visiting
    • Gather information regarding weather, appropriate clothing, how to greet people, and any other important cultural differences.
  • Learn how to say “hello” and “thank you” in the countries language you are visiting. Locals appreciate the effort, even if your pronunciation is not perfect.
    • Helpful Phone App – Google Translate®
  • Take a walking tour. Seeing a city by foot always leads to a great adventure.
    • Helpful Phone App – Detour®- a GPS-guided audio walk that offers an immersive experience in cities around the world
  • Get a map just in case you don’t have good cell phone reception
    • Helpful Phone App – Maps Me® – an offline map, navigate unfamiliar places without using phone data
  • Currency: Get local currency, not all restaurants and shops take credit cards
    • Airports have currency exchange facilities, or you can utilize a local bank or ATM. To avoid international banking fees, exchange at your home bank prior to your departure.
      • If using an ATM in a public area, have your travel companion stand guard as this is an easy target for thieves.
      • Helpful Phone App – Units Plus – up to date currency exchange rates
      • For more information read Physically Speaking Topic “Foreign Exchange”
  • Safety first!
    • There is power in numbers, it is ideal to travel with a partner.
      • If traveling alone, use “Share My Location” with a trusted family member or friend
    • Take care of your belongings
      • Carry your backpack in front of you while traveling on public transportation
      • Women, crossbody zippered purses are best, as they cannot be easily grabbed off your arm
      • Men, move wallets from the back pocket to the front pocket
      • Avoid having credit card numbers stolen via scanning and invest in RFID Blocking wallet
      • When walking in public areas please ensure to safeguard your mobile phone against possible “phone snatching” from individuals traveling on scooters or bicycles.
  • Air and Ground Transportation
    • Arrive at the airport a minimum of 2 hours prior to departure for an international flightWTA Physically Speaking Cultural Connection
      • Helpful Phone App Lounge Buddy ®- After entering your credit card, airline status, and lounge memberships, the app tells you which lounges you can access at any given airport
    • If staying at a hotel, when not using tournament transportation, use their provided taxi service.
    • If not staying at a hotel, registered ride share options, such as Uber® are helpful to use
      • It is IMPERATIVE that you check the license plate and driver’s name/photo before entering the vehicle
      • Be safe: Sit in the backseat of the vehicle and use the seat buckle.

**The apps above are only suggestions and may not be available in every country. WTA has not tested these apps to ensure they work as advertised.

“Our similarities bring us together. Our differences allow us to be
fascinated by each other.” – Tom Robbins (Author)


  • Preparation
    • Carry a scanned copy of your passport on your phone or within your e-mail
    • Carry printed copies and/or screenshots of your flight information, hotel accommodations (including address), and any tours purchased in advance
    • Leave a copy of your passport and credit card information with a trusted source at home, if you lose these
      documents, this will expedite the process for replacement
  • Health
    • Check your insurance coverage with your carrier to ensure you are covered while traveling abroad. International insurance can help cover costly medical expenses and ensure no matter where you travel you can get the medical help you need.
    • Carry your health insurance ID card while traveling; provide a family member with this information so they have it readily available should you need it to be referenced at any time.
    • Ensure you have adequate supplies of your prescription medications


The information provided within this Physically Speaking topic is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, psychiatric, psychological, health care or health management advice. If you have my health or related questions or concerns, please consult your physician or other qualified health care professional.

A special thanks to the author, WTA PHCP, Anna Peavler, PT, DPT

Read more health and nutrition articles →

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