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Personal Culture

Keats Student Anna

Living in a new culture can help you develop a personal culture that is all your own and that you can be proud of. When you first move to a different country, everything is new. Everything you see is exciting. It is all different; maybe everything even seems strange at first. When you first experience a new culture, you notice everything. Things everyone else takes for granted stand out to you like a purple elephant.

By taking in all of these new experiences with the right attitude and processing what you really think about them, you can learn a lot about yourself and why you do the things that you do. Then you can decide what aspects of this new culture you love and want to adopt as your own and what you prefer to do as you have always done. This is how you can create your own completely unique personal culture.

At first, you notice everything about how people do things differently in the new culture you are living in. When you go to the market or grocery store, you learn how people buy food. You learn how they interact with the shop workers and other customers, how they handle food, and how they treat money. Do they accept all prices and pay immediately? Do they haggle and bargain, not wanting to part with the tiniest bit of extra money?

If you go out to eat, you see how to behave in restaurants. You see how to ask for and order food, how to treat the waitresses and other restaurant staff. You see how people interact with and treat their family and friends in social settings. What different types of restaurants are there? What does dining in a certain place say about your social status? How should you treat your family? How should you treat other diners in the restaurant? How should you treat an honored guest? How much food should you order? What should you do with leftovers? When do you pay? What do you do when you are finished eating?

When you live long-term in a country, and reside somewhere outside of a hotel, you see how people take care of the everyday necessities of life. What kind of housing is available? Are different options available to different types of people? How do the different social classes live? How are their houses set up? Who lives together? Who does what work? Who earns most of the income? Who does most of the housework? What is most important to keep clean and why? What methods do they use to cook?

How do people get around town? Is there public transportation? Do people have their own vehicles?

What do people think about being on time?

How is politeness viewed in the new culture? What is considered polite? And what is considered rude?

The questions go on and on.

At first, you notice all of this and more. Over time, you become accustomed to how things are done here. Even if they seemed strange to you at first, eventually you accept this is how things are done here. The strange becomes expected and the unusual becomes commonplace. Eventually, you have more answers than questions.

While this process can seem uncomfortable at first, if you go through it with the right mindset, it can be tremendous in terms of personal growth. Living in a new culture and evaluating why they do the things they way that they do, helps you understand your own culture and the reason behind doing things as you have always done.

It helps you learn who you are, what you believe, and what you most value. If you go through this process positively, it can help you define and establish your own personal culture, giving you tremendous self awareness and self-confidence.

When you experience a new culture, you have fresh eyes to evaluate everything. Initial reactions of either rejecting everything or accepting everything in a new culture are very common. However, a much healthier approach is to evaluate different aspects of the culture individually and deciding what you think about them on an individual basis.

Do you like bargaining for food to get the best deal, or do you value your time more than your money and would rather just pay the first price asked?

What do you think about respect and courtesy in this new culture? How will this affect how you interact with others in the future?

What do you think about the pace of life in this new culture? What pace do you want for your life in the future?

In considering these and the multitude of other questions brought up by living in a different country, you can better understand who you are and who you want to become.


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