As I go on in this class, I have learned many things. However, one thing that I recently learned was how to be more mindful. Learning how to be more mindful, specifically especially during when I meet someone from another culture. I might not understand everything that they do, and there might be something that I disagree with, but now, I will always try to be mindful of the other persons culture, and the other persons feelings about my own.
After doing the video project, I learned how to be more mindful of other cultures. It opened my eyes on how I should look at another persons culture, and how to look within at myself to see how these people can view my own culture as “weird” or not out of the ordinary. However, over the course of my twenty years here on the Earth, I have always liked to think that I have always been at least somewhat mindful of other people, and other cultures. One of the things that I do, especially if I am going to a place where I have never been before is do a little bit of research about that new place. I look to see what the people there are like, and general do’s and dont’s in the country. For example, earlier this semester I travelled to Sweden for the first time, and I did not know much about the people and the culture there besides the normal stereotypes about Sweden and Swedish people. So, I wanted to learn more before I went there. I spent about 1-2 hours learning more about Stockholm, some of the history, and even tried to learn a few words in Swedish before I went there. So while I have learned more ways to try and be more mindful of new people that I encounter, I would like to think that I have always been pretty mindful when it comes to learning a new culture.
One of the values that I was brought up with was the value of family, and friends come first over everything. I love my family very much, and would do anything for them, no matter where I am. To me without family and friends, you don’t have anything to live for. Coming from a society that is highly individualistic (USA) I do not often understand how people live for their work, or can easily go through life without contact with family or friends. While to a degree I am individualistic, I always keep in contact with family, and my close friends. I might be across an ocean, but I always take some time out of my day to talk to someone back home and tell them about London and how much I love it. I am a family oriented young man, and will do anything for my best friends at home. Those guys are like my 5 brothers from other mothers. While this value is considered good by many people in many cultures, this value can also have some flaws or negative aspects.
A negative to this value can be the fact that as far as a career goes, maybe I will not be a CEO, or not be at the top of the totem pole where people make millions of dollars a year. However, I am perfectly fine with this. I do not mind sacrificing a little bit of money for the one’s that I love the most. People can also think that I only do things through my family, or through family connections. This is not a fair judgement, but it can be one of the negative aspects about being close and loving your family very much. As for living in a place where family is not very important, I do not think I could be able to do it. However, another aspect about my personality is I always like a new challenge. So I would want to put this to the test at some point. In the end, I will always love my family, and my best friends since childhood no matter what people say or think about me.
Going into this weeks assignment, and after living in London for about a month and a half now, I am starting to feel like I am becoming a Londoner more and more everyday. I feel like I am slowly starting to adapt to life here fully (even though my transition is not as big because some of my family lived in London for about 5 years). I have also travelled a little bit with a weekend trip to Stockholm, Sweden not to long ago so I had the opportunity to get stuck in with another culture. However, after taking this CQ test which analyses your cultural intelligence, I find that I still have some work to do in order to achieve full cultural competence.
My main problem is not a lack of confidence. I have a bundle of confidence when I am meeting someone for the first time from another cultural background, which is proven by having friends on five different continents (not to be brash, or arrogant). My problem is adapting to how I can manage my emotions, and the ways I express myself in a culture that is different from my own. I tend to be very animated, use my hands a lot to talk, and stand close to people so they can get what I am saying. It is just what I do, and it is how I was brought up really. So something that I need to work on is the way I express myself and the concept of personal space. I also have a habit of slowing down my speech pattern when I speak to someone from another culture or language. I do this to insure that they understand or at least somewhat understand what I am saying.
However, I am very confident in my abilities to befriend someone from another culture. In my mind, I do not view them as “strangers”, I view them as a potential friend. I also say “hey, they are in the same situation as me, we both don’t know each other, so we might as well try to get to know each other a little bit.” It comes from the outgoing mentality I was born with and the fact that in my cultural background that I was brought up in. So that being said, we all can aspire to be perfect when it comes to understanding others, and their cultural norms, but nobody can or will be perfect. We all have our faults and we must work on them to become completely competent.
Most cultures in the world have some similarities. However, there are often some very big differences that go with these similarities. When these certain cultural backgrounds meet, these cultural differences can lead to some shocking and very embarrassing moments for both people involved. It is something that nobody wants to experience, but different cultural norms can make these uncomfortable situations happen. I will give you examples from my own daily life.
If you remember going back to my first post, I am of mainly Italian dissent, and my grandfather is from Italy. As you probably know, in Italian culture, and southern Europe in general, kissing people hello and goodbye is common place. You will see family members hug and kiss each other goodbye, or you will see best friends give the double air kiss or a kiss on the cheek. I do this all the time to my parents and family members. However, one night I decided I would try it among all my friends who are mainly of Irish dissent, and come from a strong American background. What happened was fairly embarrassing. A girl came up to me that I have known for a long time, to say hello at a party. I gave her a hug and kiss on the cheek hello. The reaction I got was something out of a comedy movie. She gave me a stare as if to say “Joe, what the hell was that!?” All my friends began to think that I liked her past the point of friends which was not the case. It led to rumors being spread, and me having to explain myself. A fairly uncomfortable situation if you ask me.
Another example is touching/personal space. Now, American’s and Britons like their personal space, and don’t want their bubble burst. I on the other hand come from a cultural background where touching, and standing close to one another is ok. I still deal with this personal space problem today. I often get accused by many of my friends in the United States and northern Europe what I stand “to close” to them. One time I got really embarrassed was when a girl called me “creepy” to my face because I was just touching her slightly, and stood “to close” for her liking. I was not trying to give off that vibe at all, but she misinterpreted what was happening, and then I had to explain myself again. Cultural differences struck again in a bad way!
So as you can see, I often deal with cultural differences. They are not fun, especially when someone from a different background misinterprets the entire situation. The best thing to do is try and understand the other person’s cultural norms, and try not to break them. However, every person is different and it is fairly difficult to read a person when you are just meeting them. As life goes on, we all will have the chance to learn about other people, and how other cultures behave compared to our own.
This was Joe Mastoloni, and until next time…cheers guys! Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below!
Hello everyone, my name is Joseph Mastoloni, and I am currently a nineteen year old university student from the United States studying in London. I am from the suburbs of New York City, and attend Syracuse University in the United States. The purpose of this blog is for one of my classes titled “CRS 400: Intercultural Communication and Social Media.” I am going to share with you what we have talked about in the class, and some events that take place while I am in London. The topics discussed will usually be about culture.
The first subject I am going to discuss is about my cultural layers. All of us are members of certain “groups” or cultural layers. They can range from what our ethnicity is, to where we are from, even to our religion. Within those cultures there are certain values that those cultures hold, and teach. After you study the values that some of these cultures hold, you will realize that some of these values can then be portrayed through some cultural norms. These norms are what happens when people want to portray the values that their culture taught them. I am going to give you an example of what I am talking about down below.
My original ethnic background or my “culture” is Italian. My grandfather is from Italy, and he has instilled many Italian customs throughout my entire family. He spread most of these customs down to his children, and then some of these Italian customs have reached his grandchildren. A big Italian value that is shared among most Italian families (that I know at least) is that FAMILY COMES FIRST! I have learned this from a very young age. If any one of my family members was in trouble, and called on me for help, I would be there in a flash! So, a cultural norm that is we all meet for family dinners at my grandparents house, or we go to the country club, and share a meal with my grandparents. It is a great time. However, sometimes two cultures can clash within myself.
In Italian culture (generally) family comes first. However, another culture that is within me is the American culture. I was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City. The American culture generally does not focus much on family. It is more focused on the individual, and many other things are put to the side, so we can please ourselves. An example of how these two “cultures” clash is the same example at family dinners. Often times, I will try to get out of going to family dinners, or will try to leave early. This is just one of many examples of how different cultures within yourself can clash.
This is my first of many blogs to come. Thank you for reading my blog. Feel free to leave a comment below on your thoughts about this blog. Feel free to subscribe to this blog! Until next time, cheers!