About Cultural Reads

I started Cultural Reads in the midst of the pandemic.

Physical trips were impossible, so I traveled virtually through books, music and movies.

But this project started way earlier.

I love learning and meeting new people and culture brings all of this together.

I’ve lived in Ecuador, Spain, The Philippines, Kenya, and the Netherlands, have many friends from different places and love working in international environments.

Cultural Reads offers an easy way to explore countries through culture.

But it’s also a way to learn, shift perspectives, and create meaningful connections.

There’s a lot more to come, so stay tuned!

For the full story, continue reading below.

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My Personal Story

During the summer of 2014, I moved to Barcelona for an Erasmus exchange. I had always wanted to live abroad, and this was my opportunity. I set a goal to learn the language and make new non-Dutch friends. 

Later that year, I embarked on a 2-month AIESEC volunteering project in the Philippines

My first international experience was mostly with other Europeans, so it was time to broaden the scope. I spent those two months with 50 people of different nationalities. Among them: are Nigeria, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Ecuador, Colombia, Finland, Vietnam, and of course, the Philippines. We slept in the same dorms, worked on the same projects, and spent each night talking, watching movies, and playing cards.

After these experiences, I started a Master’s back in the Netherlands but kept a yearning to explore more. 

So I returned to Spain for a few months and landed a job with the Red Cross shortly after. I spent three months working in Kenya, nine months in Ecuador and Peru (where my interest in Spanish culture turned into a love for anything written or produced in Spanish), and several weeks on projects in other countries. This period accelerated my international journey by allowing me to work with people from different cultural backgrounds.

By now, I had built a habit of buying books from local authors whenever I traveled. I saw that culture connected people and produced a better understanding of the world around me. Books led to music, music to movies, and the combination of these 3, eventually to this blog.

What Is In It For You?

Cultural Reads allows you to explore cultures from the comfort of your home. 

You can find the best books, movies, and music per country and use it as a source of learning and inspiration. 

Bookmark the site and take it with you on your next journey. Besides the country page, you’ll find articles with recommendations and interviews.

Use it on your next trip to Cameroon for example. Ask the taxi driver about Mongo Beti and Manu Dibango, and see what response you get.

If you find someone’s culture truly interesting, you’ll have surprisingly fun and positive conversations.

Just imagine meeting a tourist in your country, that read some of the books you loved in high school. Wouldn’t you be pleasantly surprised?

In my opinion, the best way to learn about and from other cultures is to listen to what people from there teach you.

That’s why I primarily include writers, movie directors, and musicians from the respective countries instead of people who visited the country unless there’s a very good reason to do so. 

Cultural Reads

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