Hi Gona, this is not about the post but I am wondering something…. I am a 22 years old girl and I am moving abroad for the love of my life. What is your best advice to someone like me who is going to move? It makes me nervous to think about it but I am also very excited for this and to end a distance relationship finally. It has been two years now and we are getting sick of it. Great blog! I really love to check it out every day ? :).
Hi there T! First of all, thank you very much and thanks for leaving a comment. The fact that you’re moving must be so exciting?! Now to your question: One BIG advice that I do have, and always give to others because I didn’t understand it very well myself when I first moved, was that you HAVE TO be open-minded and have an understanding of that different a country means a different culture. I was aware of that from the beginning on, of course, because it’s something you sort of touch on in school but I never understood the actual meaning of it and I was never aware of what it meant, really.
Sweden and Switzerland may be only 2 hours away by plane, yet they do have tremendous differences when it comes to the culture. There was a lot I would simply “not understand” and I would often interpret the Swiss people as “cold” or “weird” (I take it back now). NOW, after learning about the culture (I had the ability to take a class in cultural training at my university – the best class ever to be honest with you) I see everything so differently, and I quickly came to peace with this place and myself living here. In the beginning everything was just “wrong” and “bad”, because I was not aware of the differences very much. No place was better than Sweden according to me, and yada yada, haha and it isn’t hard to understand why I thought like that – Sweden was my home and that’s the only place I knew of since it’s the only place and culture (well expect the albanian one at home) that I had experienced. Having to jump out of my comfort zone wasn’t easy at all, and I’d get back in to that when things were challenging – such as when there things I wouldn’t understand here.
So, definitely be open-minded and aware of the fact that things are simply different – learn about the culture and the way we form our behaviour depending on where we are raised. One thing that may seem completely normal to one person who’s born and raised in Sweden, may be perceived as completely different to a person living elsewhere, like in Switzerland. Did you know – for instance – that even the environment forms the way we are/the culture? Taking Switzerland as an example (that’s one of the countries we mainly focused on at Uni, too): it is surrounded by mountains and it’s a very built-up country, which means that there are buildings, houses, and people just about…everywhere! It is not as if you can look out somewhere – an open field – and not see the end of it, or a building, or people. Honestly speaking. This environmental thing has an impact in the culture, and it actually has made the culture both more conservative, and made people respect each other’s privacy a lot more. It is basically seen as “we’re surrounded by each other all the time, lets respect the little privacy we have.” Funny, huh? Did you also know that researches say that people who live near the coast tend to live longer than people who live “inland”?
Did you also know that if you speak to a Chinese and don’t have a short 3-4 seconds break before answering a question while you’re in a conversation, it is considered as if you didn’t take in what the person before said or asked you, before you answered. Whereas, if you talk to a latino – who we all see as “parrots”, and “oh my God, they yell and talk in each other’s mouth all the time” – you have to interrupt each other when you talk, other ways it may be understood by them, as if you don’t have an interest in what you are talking about.
Then there is this model made by psychologist Kurt Lewin, which came to explain a lot in life and in business life, called “THE COCONUT/ PEACH”-model, and it divides the world in two two different cultural groups: the “peach” and the “coconut” (I read about it in this book called “Cultural Intelligence” – very good book, I really enjoyed reading it). Read this:
“U.S.A. and Japan are good examples of “peach” cultures. Americans and Japanese are “soft” on the outside. They are very friendly to people they just met. They smile at strangers, chat, share information, and are very nice and helpful. However, once you get past the initial friendliness, you see their real private self is protected by a hard shell of the pit. You often hear complains that they are nice only on the outside, but it’s impossible to become real friends with an American or Japanese.
Russia and Germany are good examples of “coconut” cultures. They are “hard” on the outside. They rarely smile at strangers, do not easily engage in conversations, and may look nor friendly or even aggressive first. However, if you manage to break through their hard outer shell, they tend to become close loyal friends who will accept you as family.” Facsimile.
Swiss and Swedish people definitely belong to the Coconut culture, together with the Russians. Ask yourself whether the culture you’re raised in either belongs to the coconut or the peach. Haha, the funny thing is that I – for a very long time – couldn’t stand Russians (no worries, I got some Russian friends today, they hate me as much ;p) and found them so coldhearted that I hardly wanted to talk to them! Or like, after being in Toronto and US a few times, I wanted to ask every seller here why they can’t be as nice as the ones working in stores in the US? They’re always so happy and like, “Hello Mam! How are you today? Can I help you with something? You’ going out tonight?”… and here’s they’re like “Hi. 15 CHF, please. Have a good day.”, haha. I’m like:
In closing – I can’t stop talking about this topic because it fascinates me – just stay open, and be fair, and understand that the way you look at another culture, is the way someone else looks at yours. There will be things you don’t understand, but there is always a root to that certain behaviour so don’t judge it. The more you learn about all of this, the less judgemental you become about anything, really. Embrace the difference of the cultures and just.. learn. Take it in, grow, enjoy the experiences you’ll be having, and just ride with it! Good luck :)), and I hope this answered your question! :*