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Live Abroad - Achieve Cultural Awareness
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Live Abroad - Achieve Cultural Awareness

When you live abroad you open your mind to the world. With the prevalence of the Internet and the increase of Globalization on many levels, understanding and acknowledging cultural differences has now become more important than ever.

When we travel or live abroad we sometimes close yourself off from understanding different cultures by looking at things from our own cultural perspective.

Cultural Awareness is the ability for us to stand back from ourselves and become aware of our own cultural beliefs and values. It is about thinking and understanding why we act the way we do and why we see things from our own cultural viewpoint.

It is about understanding why do we do things in a particular way. It is our view of the world and why do we react in the ways that we do.

Cultural awareness is important when we have to work, travel or live abroad or when we have to interact with people from other cultures. Everybody sees, interprets and evaluates things in a different ways. What may be seen as appropriate in one culture could be seen as inappropriate in another.

Being closed off from other cultures promotes cultural ignorance and leads to racism. Many of the global issues and problems that we face in the world today are due to cultural ignorance. As someone who has traveled and lived abroad in many countries I can honestly say that the majority of people in the world are 'nice human beings'. Many of the things that we are led to understand as being true of one culture or another are often misconceptions that have been forced upon us by the media or the views of people who are afraid of someone who is different. When you travel or live abroad you learn to see through these misconceptions.

It is natural for us to be afraid of differences but once we understand and acknowledge the reasons for those differences, this is when we can bring society closer together. Differences in culture come from something called core values. These are the values that are imposed on us by things such as religion, and also our own cultural history. A great example of this is egalitarianism in modern Australian culture - this comes from the European history of Australia during the times of colonialism. Individualism in American culture and the hierarchical structure of Japanese company culture are all products of each countries history. Values are the forces that we don't see in culture. They are the things beneath the surface that we only see when we live abroad.

People whom travel, work or live abroad are often more successful in international business and happier in life. Many companies look for people who have had international experience, and the cultural skills that you gain when you live abroad are highly valued. When you travel, work or live abroad, you not only learn about a new culture but you also give others the opportunity to learn about yours.

Misunderstandings arise when you use your meanings to make sense of someone else's reality. When you live abroad you can change your reality. The skills that you gain and the experiences that you have when you travel or live abroad will stay with you for your whole life.

Live, work and Travel


Street Talk

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the fact of living abroad were a guarantee of increasing one's own Cultural Awareness! Though I agree that this is the ideal and I believe that many non-Americans achieve this ideal when they visit the United States, I believe that the average American falls behind on the cultural learning curve when faced with living abroad. Americans tend to be more isolated in their day-to-day habits, so it is easy for them to live a year and never learn the language of the cultural traditions of their host country. It is just as possible for an American to live in another country, learn the language, but never lower their feeling of superiority to appreciate the richness of the culture that surrounds them. Only those that are willing to go through the extreme discomfort of stepping outside of their isolated existence and mingle with the people around them, take part in their festivals, learn the background of their history (especially aspects that on the surface seem distasteful) can one even begin to grow in Cultural Awareness.

Reply
  about 9 years ago
Alex W  

Interesting article - I worked and travelled in Asia for some time and to be honest - I want to go back! True story!

Reply
  about 9 years ago

That's great Alex - Thanks for your post

Reply
  about 9 years ago
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