A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about journey

Reflections on Global Connections

My running thoughts living as "the exotic" in a country I find exotic

This post is a bit different than my previous ones as it provides an update on my thoughts rather than my experiences.

I have been in England for almost two months now and have had countless cross-cultural experiences in this time. It has given me more than enough information to reflect on about my own culture and what things I naturally see as "the norm". I now feel obligated to share some of these thoughts which are, well not completely developed, finally starting to come to some rudimentary conclusions.

We naturally search around us for things that we identify with, things that make us feel comfortable because they are familiar. While this is natural and a good guard for our well being and comfort, it seems to be the greatest challenge to overcome when encountering new things. We want to shun differences as 'exotic' or 'other', yet this prevents us from learning.

It allows us to continue believing our own beliefs to be THE beliefs and everyone else's beliefs to be the WRONG beliefs.

I have been struggling with meeting people from other countries and thinking of them in terms their accent such as “Asian”, “English”, or “Nigerian”. Well this is a good starting point and perhaps a basis for comparing cultural norms, it fails to recognize the person who is more complicated then their culture.

What I often fail to come to grips with is that, to them, I am “American”: equally exotic, equally other. To them, I am probably licentious, probably drink Starbucks, probably say "Oh my Gosh" too much. From this side of the pond, my accent may be adorable, annoying, or strange; either way it is an accent, it is "other".

One thing that has added a coherency to thinking about differences in cultures and the common human experience is going to church in England. It is amazing that how ever many gallons of water separate my home and where I am, I can still go somewhere to worship the same God. I can find people who ask me about my faith journey and whom I can hear theirs. We can learn from each other and that is glorious.

This is my current conclusion:

A whollistic view of the world means that no one accent, one culture, one viewpoint is neutral. We are all “other” and we are all “normal”. It just depends on what side of the line you are standing on. Encountering new cultures with an open mind is the first step to obtaining this whollistic view.

(I have still not determined whether an entirely wholistic view is possible. I doubt it because try as I might, I am not neutral)

"But as long as you remember what you have seen, then nothing is gone. As long as you remember, it is part of this story we have together."

Leslie Marmon Silko

If anyone has any more thoughts to add to my own, please comment with them or send me a message!

Posted by Kateogan 05:54 Tagged reflections england cultural journey differences cross-cultural Comments (0)

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