Embracing cultural differences

What does that even mean?

It means respecting their differences, even if you do not completely agree with their values or choices.

It means opening yourself up to others‘. Getting to know them as people, and taking on new experiences with them.

It means getting outside your comfort zone and seeing things in a whole new light.

This is, and many other things I have learned during my exchange abroad. It’s amazing how much you can learn from other people just by living or spending so much time with them. I’ve never had so many different friends (or acquaintances) in my life. By this I mean culturally different. Sure I have quite a bit of Canadian and Croatian friends back home, but I’ve never had SpanishGerman, Dutch, Mexican, Senegalese, Finnish, Italian, Chinese, or even American friends.

I would like to give you my opinion–and some humour–on some of these cultures I have become acquainted with during my stay here.

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Spanish

  • Have you ever heard of Mexican or even Greek time? It applies here as well. They are not the most punctual, so it is better to plan for their late arrival well in advance.
  • Most of them do not like spicy food. Even the smallest amount of chile they will notice.
  • Their cuisine is very tasty. Especially paella or tortilla española.
  • They are quite relaxed, which may explain why they aren’t that punctual
  • They have the best jammon (cured ham) in the world
  • They typically eat dinner between 9 to 11pm
  • They frequently take naps, aka siesta’s
  • Some of them are huge procrastinators (like me)
  • They really really like football. Like alot.
  • Some of them stick with their own
  • They have large groups of friends

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Dutch:

  • They are open minded, and very, very friendly
  • They speak very good English
  • They get mad when you violate bike rules
  • They are actually quite funny and super fun to party with
  • Their language sucks, but for some odd reason I’ve come to love it.
  • When they make plans with you they do not bail on you unless it’s for a legit reason
  • They have like a million music festivals, most of which are electronic or techno
  • They have the best cheese
  • They have the worst weather
  • You’ll know if someone is Dutch because of their height

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Germans:

  • Like the Dutch, most of them are open minded. They aren’t afraid to speak their mind and tell you like it is. They cut the bullshit. They are also similar to Canadians in this way and that is why I love them.
  • Ever heard of German time? Bet you didn’t. They are very punctual. And organized.
  • If you ever meet a German, be their friend immediately.
  • They are cheap, but in a good way. Someone once told me that the Dutch are very cheap, but I think they were talking about Germans (haha).
  • Most of them really, really love techno and electronica music.
  • They water down their orange juice because it’s too sweet
  • They are quite logical, like Canadians.
  • They are easy to talk to and hang out with.

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Mexicans:

  • They are overly cautious and protective
  • They are very loyal people
  • They enjoy spicy food (thank god, haha)
  • Like the Spanish, some of them can be lazy and unpunctual. But they are very laid back.
  • Their Spanish is easier to understand
  • They also hate Donald Trump
  • Their English is very good
  • They have the best candies ever

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Senegalese:

*I’ve only met 1 during my exchange here

  • Very hospitable and clean
  • Open to new cultures, cuisines, and people
  • Independent
  • Really soft and poofy hair
  • They speak French

Flag_of_Finland.svg.png

Finnish:

  • Straightforward, simple, and easy to talk to
  • They also endure cold weather
  • Their language looks confusing but sounds funny
  • Good sense of humour
  • They are either vegetarian, vegan, or allergic to gluten or lactose
  • They all have natural blonde hair, and blue eyes

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Italians:

  • When they talk, they talk with their hands. Also their accent is amazing
  • They have the best fashion sense
  • They are honestly so cool

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Chinese:

  • They are quite reserved
  • They avoid getting sun burnt or tanned because white skin is considered a social and beauty status.
  • They stick with their own people most of the time (collectivism).
  • They have the cutest laughs
  • They are really good photographers
  • Their food is interesting and sometimes too plain. It is also quite healthy, no wonder they’re all thin
  • Some of them aren’t very open to new things, especially Western culture
  • They are very hardworking and never procrastinate
  • Their hair is permanently straight
  • They prefer stiff mattresses compared to soft ones
  • Easy to talk to

These are people who come from different backgrounds, values, and have different personalities. I have learned to embrace their differences and adapt to them. Maybe I haven’t been super close friends with all these types of people, but they have all impacted me one way or another whether it was with group projects, travelling, or even just hanging out. I am so thankful to have met these individuals, and I consider some of them my close friends who I hope to see in the future. I leave in almost 1 week (July 5) and it’s going to be a very emotional last few days here with having to say goodbye to these friends and short-term acquaintances.

 

I’d love to know your thoughts on some of these cultures in the comments below!  🙂

Steph xo

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