What I have learned after living in different countries

Most of people do not leave they home country for longer than few weeks. Usually because they do not have to do so, and their current situation is enough to have a decent, comfortable life. There are things in life that can be learned only by visiting foreign, unknown culture.

Most of things we see depends on a perspective.

Rarely something is a universal truth, and undeniable phenomenon, understood by everyone. Experience shows that despite the people in United States came from the same cultural circle as Europeans, their everyday life is completely different. That Polish values differ from French ones, and that Ukrainian people perceive European Union completely different from Germans. For European people working two shifts, for 13 hours a day is something unimaginable. We are working usually eight hours in one work and that’s enough, while most of Americans work that way for dozens of years. For European it is unimaginable that public transport can be almost nonexistent in major city, while Los Angeles is such a example.

The point is that when you are working with people from different cultural circles, then you have to keep in mind that your truth can be an nonsense for them. Its important information when planning an advertising campaign, or new currently unknown product.

We are basing on stereotypes.

Stereotype is meant to make our life easier. It categorizes people and their behavior, turning difficult connections between phenomenons to easy, understandable form. Stereotypes are extremely useful and tell you that customer is probably going to buy something in shop, rather than asking you for solving his personal problems. You assume that customer is meant to buy, not steal. If you think that someone wants to steal something – you are basing on your stereotype of a thief, because you have simplified image of him in the mind. As long as you assume that customers role is to buy, and thief to steal – everything is working well.

Problems show up when you falsely accuse people of doing something they never did, basing only on things you have heard. Example? There is a stereotype that Irish people drink a lot. If you believe strongly in such a thing, then you are going to eliminate Irish candidate for work. Why? Because he is going to drink at work. Even if he never drinks except weekends. Then you start to accuse your employees of being lazy, because they are from southern Europe. Next thing is that people from Eastern Europe are stealing, so you have to kick eastern employees out of warehouse. You are not looking at people as on individuals, but as on artificial groups of them.

Sitting constantly in one place makes you blind.

To any innovation, new information and technology. It causes you to live the same life, as you had few years ago – where nothing changes. The smaller city, the stronger phenomenon. If there is no flow of new people, or people who are traveling around – then nothing new is going to happen. I doubted that someone could live the same life for years. I was wrong, it is possible.

Around whole world I’ve seen people who never got out their state, district or country. They’ve never seen different culture nor experienced outside world. It’s cruel to see, but the same people are in often in charge of something bigger, and of our society. They assume that their truth is universally correct, and deny anything unknown. It leads to limiting the development of country or local area, and stay in the same state as before. It is not even a matter of financial resources as much, as of civilization progress.

Don’t tell me, show me.

There is a Chinese proverb which says:

Tell me, I’ll forget

Show me, I’ll remember

Involve me, I’ll understand

Our mind shows tendency to believe more in what we create, and what we have seen as a individual. We enjoy stories of people who were in exotic places, who experienced foreign culture. However, we don’t show tendency to learn from what they wanted to pass on us – it rarely causes us to change.

More effective way of understanding world around is not to get out of the box, but getting rid of the box. Experiencing the shock of new environment effectively eliminates current view on world, and forces you to create new one.

It should be obvious that current situation around is not something permanent and holy, but it can change in seconds, and there are people who live in different mental world.


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