Or is it when you fall in love with a book or a film and resolve that one day, somehow, you’ll buy a ticket to the land where the story began?
Their choices range from globally renowned classics — like Austria’s choice of Carol Reed’s Vienna-set film “The Third Man” — to quirky new releases, such as Malta’s “Limestone Cowboy,” about a family dealing with a delusional father’s ambition to become Prime Minister.
“One theme we noticed is a focus on nature,” says Julie Hansen, Babbel’s newly appointed US CEO. Wildlife documentary “Colombia, magia salvaje” (2015), for example, showcases the country’s glorious landscapes for an international audience more used to seeing them in the context of crime series like Netflix’s “Narcos.”
“Another common thread amongst the recommendations was love,” adds Hansen, “a theme that has inspired stories in almost every human culture in history.”
When immersing ourselves in a new culture, a nation’s fictional works — the stories it tells about itself — offer insights as valuable as those we can receive from its non-fiction.
“Non-fiction [works] well in depicting the history that shaped a country and the can’t-miss experiences that a visitor should see,” says Hansen.
“Fiction works wonderfully to boil down the experiences, beliefs attitudes, and characteristics of a country and its people. It is often better than non-fiction at capturing a zeitgeist.”
The ambassadors’ selections:
Austria (Ambassador Wolfgang A. Waldner)
Azerbaijan (Ambassador Elin Suleymanov)
Bhutan (Ambassador Kunzang C. Namgyel)
Canada (Ambassador David MacNaughton)
Chile (Ambassador Juan Gabriel Valdés)
Colombia (Ambassador Juan Carlos Pinzón)
Denmark (Ambassador Lars Gert Lose)
Estonia (Ambassador Eerik Marmei)
Finland (Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi)
Germany (Ambassador Peter Wittig)
Greece (Ambassador Haris Lalacos)
Iceland (Ambassador Geir H. Haarde)
Ireland (Ambassador Anne Anderson)
India (Ambassador Navtej Sarna)
Jamaica (Ambassador Audrey Patrice Marks)
Malta (Ambassador Pierre Clive Agius)
New Zealand (Ambassador Tim Groser)
Norway (Ambassador Kåre R. Aas)
Slovenia (Ambassador Božo Cerar)
Sweden (Ambassador Björn Lyrvall)