Lesson 3: What should I understand about cultural differences?
Lesson 3 Chapter 1
Watch the video or read the explanations down below. Be aware that your knowledge will be tested in the next lesson.
"Cultural differences are the differences in beliefs, behaviours, languages, practices and expressions between specific groups of people based on for example; ethnicity, race or national origin."
Read about some of the main themes before you depart. You should find yourself some information about the history of the country, the languages being spoken, religion, politics, the ethnic groups etc. Moreover, one should keep in mind that cultural differences are not only visible between countries, but also within countries and between different groups of people.
You are likely to experience culture shock. Culture shock is a feeling of disorientation you can experience when you are in another culture. It can be accompanied with feelings of frustration and anxiety.
One must also be aware of reverse cultural shock. Upon return to your home country, you may find that your home country can be or feel different from what you are used to.
The most important thing in dealing with cultural differences is to be aware that your own expressions and behaviours are shaped by your own cultural background.
An example of this is eye contact. Eye contact could possibly mean to some listening and showing respect and being honest and open. In another culture, eye contact can be seen as cheeky, disrespectful, showing disinterest, or lying. This depends on what is the norm in a culture.
Norms and values
If you are aware of your own norms and values and are having an open attitude towards the norms and values of others, you can adapt more easily to a different culture.
What is important is that you don’t judge other practices, beliefs, behaviour and expressions as wrong just because they are different from yours.