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12      Beyond Cross-cultural Encounters

Culture plays an important role in individuals’ lives and molds their conceptions, as well as relationships with people among themselves.

Being someone who grew up in Asia, the post herein is based on a culture which I am accustomed to — Asian culture. Although there is a possibility that a large group of people who live in a multi-cultural environment, such as the United States, might be able to share common cultural aspects.

Based on my culture, I grew up being told not to be outspoken. Therefore I was once one of the most quiet students in my illustration class.

I thought it was disrespectful of my Australian classmates to look into our lecturers’ eyes everytime they talked to them. It is an Asian culture, to lower your eyes when someone older talks to you as a sign of respect.

I thought it was a big deal when one of my Caucasian male friends placed his hand on my shoulder. According to the Asian culture, human body is viewed as something sacred where the soul is believed to reside. Therefore when an opposite gender touches any part of the body, there can be misunderstood.

Culturally speaking, it is considered rude to be agressive to someone who is more superior or in this case, older. As a result, I do not talk back to my parents although they could be wrong sometimes.

By living in different countries, my value towards life has changed over time. Looking into someone’s eyes while talking to the person is important for me as sign of sincerity. Hugging my friends as a show of affection is natural to me. Voicing out my opinions is necessary for me to let others know how I feel about things. Standing up for my beliefs is essential for me as to show what I think of certain issues.

However, there is a tendency for a cultural clash in society. Differences within various cultures exist from time to time. Encountering people from other cultures can be challenging. There are ongoing debates in different cultures that might result the cultural clash. For instance, most of my Asian friends are against the idea of cohabiting.

Whereas for me, it is important for two people to be able to live together, accept each other and discover one’s habits to the others before taking it to the next level. It is almost impossible to achieve this without living under one roof. A cultural misunderstanding occured when I started expressing my views in my family, my Mom thought it was a mistake to send me overseas because I was becoming like one of ‘them’, becoming too open and expressive.

Cultural arguments, debates and disagreements are inevitable.

A culture shapes an individual. It is significant for one to be able to filter a good side of a culture to another. Cultural diversity builds up a character and enriches it and offers for each one of us to experience the uniqueness among us.

Different cultures have different values in life. At the same time it can also be a great opportunity to learn those differences, tap that energy, live life to the fullest and enjoy the diversity.