I am a Chinese from Chengdu capital in the Southwestern parts of Sichuan province. Moving to America to pursue my education as created cultural and social differences starting from the cuisines to language. Even with the early civilization in my region, our mode of communication is still the Yi language; it was a challenge to adapt to the fast English speaking peers and tutors. By engrossing in books, constant interactions with peers, watching of movies and hiring of an interpreter, I have fully adapted to the language as it’s the general mode of communication.
Used to my ethnic Chinese cuisines which are always fresh, hot and spicy and prepared at home, it’s been great to get other diverse cuisines e.g. Italian, Mexican and Indian. It’s of great interest to just walk into a restaurant and order Italian take out, a myth in my province. This has greatly helped me to know more about the varied foods in other countries across the world. The only thing that puts us all on the same levels in terms of food is the MacDonald’s take out a restaurant that makes almost the same types of food here and back home. I had never seen a Mexican restaurant nor eaten Chile rellenos before. The change as opened me to the world, to experience the varied life styles that come with it and am taking in as much as I can.
In my cultural setting, greeting is done formally starting with the oldest person, where we look towards the ground when greeting others. The adjusting to hugging and close intervention of personal space has always been a challenge. I am getting used to being close to people, accepting a hug and not bowing for the tutor when he walks to the lecture hall. Whistling and the constant snapping of fingers are some of the habits have picked from my peers in here its considered rude and abusive back home but when here am allowed to be rebellious a bit culturally. Recently when back home, I noted the looks I was being given without realizing the unconscious whistling I was doing to a song; it shows the diversified cultural influences that have I have acquired. Our tutors at times compliment a person for work well done, it’s always been a weird to me since I have never been complimented or heard a compliment in back home. I like the complimenting culture here; it shows open appreciation for effort and a motivator for even more effort.
In our group discussions, conversations have always been held in a round table setting where peers stare at each other directly in the eye while talking. Initially I found the gestures rude, like folding of legs and putting hands in the pocket when someone was talking to me. Since peers are used to doing that, I have come to acknowledge the easy lay back cultural doctrines. In my first lecture day, learnt with horror that there’s no standing to offer greeting to older people here, ‘‘culture shock.” Back home, we bend to show respect to older people, here its a casual ‘’hi” and ‘’bye.” This one incident led to a fear of the loss of my accumulated cultural and social doctrines but change is good so have accepted St Ambrose’s wise saying ‘’ when in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
I have always been called a punctuality freak by peers; I will always arrive earlier than expected to meetings and group discussions. It’s a trait that has earned me a lot of respect here has am considered reliable to complete set targets in time. The disregard for time is a vice I have not been able to change here has punctuality has always been instilled throughout my up bringing back home. Here, we clap as a sign of praise compared to back home where it’s done to acknowledge presence of someone. Culturally I learn a new thing everyday and due to the diversity of people, it’s been of great help to note the varied cultural and social differences that have been propagated into the society where I live and am proud to be associated with the experience (EDU, 2006).
The on-line group in the assignment 2 highlighted the varied fundamental differences culturally and socially. The use of language in expression when interacting was a considerable challenge especially due to shortening of words e.g. FYI to mean for your information especially when passing information. I remember a peer typing short forms of sentences during our online conversations, I had to request for meanings hence creating a mild barrier in communication. Due to the constant usage of short forms by various peers in our conversation, I have fully grasped them and find it easier and quick to pass information. (Iris & Linda, Intercultural Communication in the Global Workplace, 2010)
The online work helped to reach a pluralistic society of racial, cultural, religious and ethnic perspectives. These led to accomplishment of a well detailed assignment that covered all the aspects of the varied opinions represented. Our greatest concern was team work and coordination in order to finish the assignment. The coming together and coordination of all the resource persons required the electing of a coordinator, she helped a great deal to allocate work units and the checking of progress on the course of work. With her help, were able to agree on the preferred communication style that was favorable to all the respondents’ hence high levels of efficiency in accomplishing the assignment. By creating of a time plan, remote based students were easily reached at there convenient times to submit their views on assignment development. She also helped to make understand the cultural drives that among the various students involved in the collaborative project. By settling of any cultural mishaps that arose, it necessitated the development of a more precise and culture sensitive assignment (Edmundson, 2007).
Through the experiences that I am learning, its acting as a stepping stone towards the acceptance and appreciation of all the cultural and social differences that arise today and in future. For me to be a goal brand which is my aim, it’s of great importance that I become flexible culturally and to learn and respect all the cultures that I encounter. I intend to travel more and experience the primary cultures that are not represented in my current setting, going to Australia for a one month vocation is the start of my cultural exploration. This will be followed by Africa later in the year 2011 especially Nigeria and Kenya due to their diverse cultural orientations. I have already saved for the trips and since am going with a couple of friends, we have developed a travel schedule as part of our preparation.