#3 Lens Shifting & Comparative Thinking
Now that you have been abroad for some time, pick an aspect of your life
in your host culture and compare it to that same aspect in the U.S. Some
examples of possible topics might include daily transportation, dining
out, relating to one’s instructors, communicating with family members,
playing sports, and so on.
Even with globalization, and even in other cultures in which English is
the official language, there are cultural differences. Obvious differences
might be dress and food. More nuanced differences might be things such as
gender relationships, attitudes toward work or family, attitudes about
time, or methods of worship.
Describe a more nuanced cultural difference that stands out for you, and
then write about what you think this difference might represent in terms
of values and beliefs.
One difference which I really despise is the French work ethic. I’ve noticed in the service industry especially that people here are downright rude. They seem to have these rules of politeness they follow, but leave it to the French to be as polite as their social rules dictate and a complete jerk at the same time. When you enter a store you will always be greeted with a “Bonjour” or “Bon Soir” and when you leave, always an “Au Revoir,” but in the meantime they will often ignore or treat you like crap. This of course is not true for every store and restaurant, but the overall attitude towards making the customer happy is much less ambitious than the US. I think that job is viewed as more of a necessary evil in France and not something that contributes to the balance of life as in America.
In fact, in class the other day we had a discussion about the max of 35 hours for a work week in France. I was surprised to learn my other classmates Cooper and Kim are against it. Personally I find 35 hours much more agreeable, but to each his own. I think the most I’ve ever worked in one week was 55 – 60 hours, which I loved or despised depending on my job. Anyway I suppose the French don’t value service as much as Americans, but I kind of miss the approachable staff you find in the US =(
For more cultural differences see the “culture shock” tab on the blog. It lists all the differences I’ve noticed.