Virtual Cultural Exchange Opportunities
What compels us to leave our comfort zones and set off to see the world? The allure of new faces and experiences, and a core curiosity about the world’s many cultures which only travel can satiate. Of course, no time in living memory has been more difficult to see new faces. Similarly, it’s hard to uncover new experiences when you’ve been staring at the dull inside of your apartment for two months.
But that doesn’t mean new cultural experiences are beyond reach. We’re here to help by curating a series of digital experiences that will immerse you in American culture. Below you’ll find options for diving into popular culture, museums, and cooking.
- For American music lovers, check our curated regional U.S. playlists.
- If you’re working on English, pick up a few new U.S. slang expressions.
- If you’re missing your time as a J-1 Exchange Visitor, listen to exchange participants and their stories on 22.33 podcast.
In this digital age, you also have unique opportunities to consume pop culture via online streaming! Here are a few options:
- Want some video with your audio? Choose a classic American movie or television show and see if and where it’s streaming online!
- Want media that’s a little more high-brow and contemporary? Although the Cannes Film Festival was cancelled due to the pandemic, there are many streaming options available for film festivals. Check out this constantly updated list of the festivals and markets that are adapting their plans to stream online.
- You can also get a little more immersive, with a Virtual Reality experience! Costs of such devices are surprisingly low (even a cardboard box and your phone will suffice). CNN and CNBC have compiled a few options with which you can dip your toes in VR!
- Finally, this site allows one to stream artistic performances from opera to EDM DJ sets!
While most organizations have had to alter the way they interact with the public to accommodate for social distancing, museums have done so in particularly novel ways.
New York’s Guggenheim museum offers a collection online, allowing you to browse over 1,700 of the museum’s most diverse pieces. Similarly, Ohio’s Taft Museum of Art offers virtual events! You can also check out past, precorded Fundays on YouTube.
Here are some other digital museum collections to explore:
- MoMA The Museum of Modern Art, New York
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington DC
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
- Getty Center, Los Angeles
When you think back on your travels, food evokes strong memories; food is a great way to experience culture. However, when stuck indoors, you’re limited to whatever you’re able to cook up at home. Luckily, we’re here to whet your appetite!
Let’s start with some easy options. Social media usage has, predictably, skyrocketed during social distancing. Given that you’re going to be whittling away the hours on social media anyway, why not incorporate a bit of skill development?
- Chrissy Teigen has a delightful foodie account; recent posts have featured all-American staples such as hotdogs and Boston Cream Donuts.
- Baltimore’s The Food Market, has an Instagram featuring recipes and tutorials by award-winning Chef Chad Gauss.
You may be looking for something with a little more depth than Instagram Stories:
- A great place to start appreciating American food is with the country’s first peoples. Native American cuisine expert Lois Ellen Frank released a free webinar introduction to the topic, followed by a cooking demonstration.
- Barbeque is another American culinary tradition: barbeque. Over the course of eleven free episodes of BBQ With Franklin, host and self-proclaimed “BBQ nerd” Aaron Franklin will impart technical knowledge and cultural context regarding all things barbeque.
- Finally, Baltimore Chef Shop, a “teaching kitchen,” has adapted to the stay-at-home lifestyle with a wide array of online interactive cooking classes.
As global travelers we consider ourselves to be culturally sensitive and adventurous. These traits are not easily adaptable to isolation. While you may not be able to easily board a plane, you can still travel the world. Like any guide, we’ve only provided a map to your journey - it’s up to you to take the first step.