How to Join a Culture

One of the other really important parts of immersion is joining in the culture. This is as important for communication and is probably even harder than the learning to speak the language. As I have thought about my own attempt at joining I have 4 thoughts to help the person joining a strange culture.
1.Accept you are not part of culture. This is really important. You need to begin understanding of yourself. You need to accept that you are not in your home culture and often you will not feel at home and might even not understand the people or culture. You may feel lonely. You need to accept this. This is part of what it means to join a culture.
2. Be humble. You need to come as learner towards this culture. You need to ask how they do things? You need to wonder, ‘how they would this?’ You have a lot to learn as an outsider to the culture. And if you do not take this attitude you will not be able to join. You will probably create a small one person ghetto of your culture inside of culture you are not seeking to really learn.
3. Celebrate what you like. When you first came to the new culture there were things you enjoyed. And there are probably many parts of the culture you may enjoy even more then from your home culture. Certainly not everything is better and you may miss a lot from home. But take the part of the culture you do like and celebrate it regularly. Put those things into your schedule and those foods into your diet. Enjoy them. Tell your friends back home about them. Share them with those around you- who knows they may introduce you to other new things you will want to celebrate.
4. Hold onto your ‘sacred’ objects. There are the somethings that communicate ‘home’ to you. These maybe things that are foreign to your target language but these are things you should not let go. You should hold onto these things as silly as they seem. And they will certainly seem silly to your new friends in your new culture. Maybe it is a holiday tradition from you family you want to enact. Maybe it is a special meal. Maybe it is sitting in a Starbucks in a Western feeling mall. Maybe it is watching football on Sunday. Or maybe it is all of these things. I recommend you choose the most important one(s) again build it into your life. Maybe once a month you can have an American day.
All in all joining a culture is process.
Let me know, what has helped you?

 

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