different cultures

How to have an international experience when you are short of money or cannot find the time off?

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If you are a travel addict like I am but sometimes struggle to find time or money for a trip, these simple tips will assist you to get that feeling of being overseas without necessarily having to travel.

Going to an international festival, trying  new and traditional dishes or simply interacting with people from different nationalities has shown me efficient ways of satisfying my craving for traveling while staying in my own home city, even when I am short of money or I cannot get the time off.

Because Australia is a country of immigrants and at least 1/3 of Sydney’s population is from overseas (according to the 2011 Census of Population and Housing, almost half of Australia’s population were either born overseas or had a migrant parent) there are plenty of options of cool cultural stuff to do around the city.

 If your city is not as international as you would like it to be, try to adapt the following tips to your reality and hopefully you will be able to find what you are looking for. You can always search for international movies on the internet or try to follow a new drink or food recipe yourself.


Migrants always bring a bit of their culture to the new country. Therefore, where there are migrants there are festivals and events to celebrate customs and special occasions.

Check the festival calendar in the city where you live for a chance to catch a taste of cultural celebrations happening close to where you are.

Since China and India are the 3rd and 4th main birth places of the Australian immigrants – only behind UK and New Zealand – there is a blend of cultures among these countries in Australia. If you are in Sydney, have a look at the Chinese New Year or Moon festival celebrations happening every year in China town or some of the Indian religions festivals occurring around Parramatta and other Sydney neighbourhoods.

Culture lovers from: Brazil, China, India, Turkey, Australia and Italy at the Indian Navrati night in Liverpool, one of Sydney’s neighborhoods.
Culture lovers from: Brazil, China, India, Turkey, Australia an Italy at the Indian Navrati night in Liverpool, one of Sydney’s neighbourhoods.
learning Indian dance
Learning Indian dance with the best

You can also learn about certain regions by attending to film or music festivals. The Latin America film festival and the Ritmo Brazilian Day are two examples of this kind in Sydney.

Although the Latin America Festival is all about films, the Brazilian Day is a big cultural celebration which happens every September in the city. In this festival you can find typical food, dance and lots of fun in a huge space located in Darling Harbor, one of the most beautiful spots in Sydney.

Brazilian Samba presentation at the Latin America Festival 2013 - Opening night in Sydney.
Brazilian Samba presentation at the Latin America Festival 2013 – Opening night in Sydney.
Different cities have different events and immigrants influence. Check what your city has to offer and have fun exploring different cultures.
Sydney has now established a few international locations like Thai and Korean town apart from the popular China town, which can be found basically in every big city.

If you have an international town located in your city it might be a good idea to go for a wonder around and check the different shops, restaurants and markets available. Some of them are so authentic that it will give you the sensation of being overseas.

In Sydney, the Chinese Garden is one of my favourite spots where I can relax and enjoy peaceful views. It really takes me to China without leaving Sydney. For great and authentic Chinese food, nothing better than the well know China towns.

Chinese Garden - Sydney
Chinese Garden – Sydney


 If you have an interest in meeting people from different nationalities, try to attend some of the numerous meet up groups available all around the world. Meet Up is the world’s largest network of local groups and it is present in 196 countries There are plenty of groups where you can learn a different language, how to cook international food with natives or only share information about your passion.

And it is all free!

Meet up is a great opportunity for you to make friends from other nationalities and maybe get invited to traditional celebrations that you might not even be aware of.


As creatures of habits we tend to always do the same things every time. If we like something we stick to it. It is easy to go to the same restaurant and order “the usual” but, in times of travel cravings, try to be experimental and hit the traditional international restaurants available in your area.

There is always a type of food that you haven’t tried yet.

I got surprised when I went to Washington and found out that the city has the second largest Ethiopian population outside of the country itself. I have never thought about going to Ethiopia but going to that restaurant gave me a better understanding of the country.

You can learn a lot about a country by its food.

Going to a traditional restaurant will give you the feeling of experiencing something new for the first time and maybe, if you enjoy the experience, you can even think about visiting the actual country in the future.

I had some food in a Jamaican restaurant at Kensington market in Toronto once and now I have a plan to go to visit the country! You never know what a food experience can lead you to.

Ethiopian food experience in Washington DC
Ethiopian food experience in Washington DC

If you need some inspiration to choose your next holiday destination, these tips will give you plenty of insights of things to do.

Found a place you would like to visit after readying this post?

Got creative and found different ways of experiencing new cultures in your “not- that-international” city?

Share your experience with us. Every new idea is welcome!