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Unformatted text preview: Cultural Adjustment 1 Understanding your Own Culture & Cultural Adjustment Are you Chinese-American, Mexican-American, German-American, or perhaps not American at all? How do you identify yourself? Whoever you are, however you define yourself, you will have "cultural baggage" wherever you go. What is cultural baggage you may ask? It consists of the assumptions that you have about yourself, your family, friends and the world based on your own experience. Cultural baggage can weigh you down at times, but it can also be used as a resource to help you through uncomfortable situations. Understanding your own cultural baggage will help you in the quest to understand someone elses. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE YOUR OWN CULTURE Most likely your basic view of yourself may be, for example, that you are good, or that at least you have good intentions. As you meet peoples of the world, you are excited and eager for the experience to energize you. It may be a shock to meet with confrontation because you are who you are, especially if you are U.S. American. How difficult to be confronted with seemingly unexpected and hard questions. When faced with confrontations, it may feel as though you are being attacked personally and criticized. Furthermore, as you spend more time in your host country, you will begin to recognize cultural patterns that are different from your own. These cultural patterns include differences in style, assumptions, values, cultural norms, perception, motivation, forms of achievement, methods of confrontation, personalization, and the list goes on and on. These differences are just the tip of the iceberg and will be addressed more in- depth in the next section. However, it is important to recognize your own cultures patterns and what they mean to you. The next section describes U.S. American cultural patterns. If you are not from the United States, think about how these patterns compare with yours. AMERICAN CULTURAL PATTERNS Dr. L Robert Kohls, Director if Global Program Services at San Francisco State University, is a renowned literary contributor to the research on cultural patterns. He has developed a list of 13 commonly held values which help explain to first-time visitors to the United States why U.S. Americans act as they do. He is careful to avoid labeling these values positive or negative. As a U.S. American, do you recognize these traits in yourself? Whether you agree with Kohls or not, his observations are thought-provoking. Personal control over the environment Americans do not believe in fate, and they look at people who do as being backward, primitive, or native. In the American context, to be fatalistic is to be superstitious, lazy, or unwilling to take initiative. Everyone should have control over whatever in the environment might potentially affect him or her. Americans attribute problems as coming from laziness or unwillingness to take responsibility in pursuing a better life, rather than due to simple bad luck or...
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- Fall '11