If I have learned one thing with all my travels it would probably be how important it is to get local friends in the country where you are staying. Not because of the social factor, but to really understand a place you need to understand the people, and to see how they are living their every day lives. This means, if they go to the church, do sports, have hobbies, go partying and so on, go with them, participate and be open minded. This is the only way to learn about the real culture and way of living in a region, and is also why I recently noticed I have lost all interest in travel guides or programs. These guides and TV programs are almost always made by foreigners with very short experience of the region, and who probably themselves read in guides what they should visit, see or do when arriving before creating their own guide. At the same time they are the result of only one opinion, and that is also why it is not only important to spend time with local people, but to meet a lot of them and with different local cultures and viewpoints of life.