[quote]As we all really have the same desires, there’s potential for everybody to really get to know anybody.[/quote]
WORDS Wojtek Bachalski
Having lived in four different countries throughout my life has been an amazing adventure and an opportunity to experience some universal truths about humanity.
Four years ago I left Poland and moved to an international boarding school in England with students of over 40 nationalities. After three years of studying, partying, sleeping and eating in this multicultural environment I left England and decided to do something useful with myself. I went to Beijing and taught English to primary school children for six months.
However, I realised teaching others without having finished educating myself didn’t sound too professional. Consequently, I found myself walking upside down at the bottom of the earth on the campus of ‘Australia’s number one modern university’.
These travels led me to an unoriginal and banal conclusion about all of us, but let’s leave that for the end. I’d love to present you with some of the wittiest, funniest and sickest situations I found myself in. Unfortunately due to the tight word limit, I’d rather summarise my thoughts regarding cultural similarities and differences, and leave the crazy stories for another time.
In general, one of the most observable lines of division that could be drawn would be between collectivistic and individualistic cultures. As no nation is either completely collectivistic or individualistic, we could stereotypically assign most of the Asian nations to the collectivist group and Europe/North America to the individualist group. Without getting deep into explaining the concepts, collectivists are more community oriented and individualists are more inclined to mind their own business.
However, I would like to contribute to the perception of these cultures not from a psychology textbook, but from my own experiences. While it’s easier to make new friends and get drunk with Western-minded individuals, it is harder to get into semi-closed clusters of culturally collectivistic communities. But once you do, the friendships and trust are way more rewarding.
However, my conclusion is that we’re all really the same. Culture, customs, traditions and approach to life are determined by situation. As we all really have the same desires, there’s potential for everybody to really get to know anybody.