Thursday, March 16, 2017

An American Abroad

As I completed the surveys for this class, I realized how American I actually am. I am very goal-driven and independent, and I always feel like I am slacking if I am ever not busy. These characteristics might make things slightly difficult in another culture where people are more community-minded and put less emphasis staying busy. However, I think that living in France could help me to focus more on other aspects of life than what I tend to spend my time on here. Especially since I will not be working and my courses might be easier than the biochemistry classes I take at Maryville. I hope that a less strenuous semester in a culture that is slightly less focused on independence and staying busy will help me to focus on building relationships abroad and really diving into the culture.
As far as what I can bring to the table, I feel like my independence could also be a strength in some ways. I like problem-solving and figuring out solutions on my own, which could be helpful as I encounter new situations. I am also usually a very diligent student (except when I turn my blog post in late... oops) which could help relieve some potential academic stress and let me focus on other aspects of my study abroad. When we took the context survey, I ended up with a score of 5 on the high-context side, which seems to be almost exactly in line with French culture. This makes me feel much better as I face moving to a new country. Even though I know things will be very different over there and my interactions with others will have to adjust accordingly, it is nice to know that I might at least have a few things in common with this new culture.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Blog 2-Aryne Feldman

With deepening my understanding regarding the Italian culture (I am going to Rome, Italy this summer to study abroad), I plan on getting a grasp of things before traveling and studying over there.  As of right now, for instance, I am practicing the language.  I have been learning Italian slowly, but every night I learn a few phrases and review them for that week.  Understanding the language will show locals that I am, at least, trying to understand and respect part of their cultural.  Although linguistics might not seem like a big deal, to me if I know someone who doesn’t speak the same language but they were trying, it still shows they care.  With that being said, I feel as if is also important to respect the cultural overall, such as social norms and manners.  How does one show respect? First thing, is to actually understand.  Understanding is the first step in taking to respecting a culture.  We are so accustomed to our social norms and the way we present ourselves, or talk where we might be ignorant to the fact that our way of doing things is not the only way.  Knowing what is the social norm when going to restaurants, hotels, stores, or maybe interacting with professors, is a key aspect in going to another country because a sign of respect of of keen importance.  I want to learn the large differences between our culture and the Italian culture.  With this, talking to locals about their culture and talking about the differences is a great way to understand my own and their culture.  With conversations among people with different cultures, you get experience and first hand learning just by us opening our mouths! I have yet to learn everything about the culture, such as where to go and how to travel.  Although I have been to several countries, I always know about them before I go.  Therefore, this will be a great learning experience.   
I can deepen my understanding of the culture of Puerto rico fairly easy on this campus. With the simple use of google and my access to students and friends form Puerto rico as well as a Spanish teacher whho went to Puerto rico abroad as well I can learn culture from many different aspects and points of view. The world baseball classic is also a big help because of the strong presence of Puerto rican culture all over social media and television. I am very interested in the language, food, lifestyle, and rich history of the ultra-diverse island of Puerto rico. My own culture is also diversified and I bring along different language and different ways I go about things. I have yet to learn the ins and outs of the Spanish language, and I cant wait to get the opportunity!

Blog #2: An American Abroad

It's hard for me to take a firm stance because I am realizing how very different from the "average" American I am. I found myself really paying attention to how I responded to certain stances on the self audit and cultural context inventory and in the article about American values and assumptions. While time is very much of the essence for me and I value my own identity, I didn't see myself fitting into the other categories that fit under what is means to be an American. So, I suppose a challenge for me while I'm studying abroad is how do I represent a culture that I feel I am not a true part of, nor share many of the same values?

Personally, when I'm traveling, I am more interested in learning about the culture of the place in which I am located, rather than holding onto my own "culture" and going by its standards. I don't plan on going to Japan and Korea exclaiming, "Hello! I am American. The American way is the best way!" It is with this mindset that I plan on being able to handle the newness of Japan and the re-acquaintance with Korea. My curiosity and love for learning about cultures will be my weapon in dealing with my fear of the unfamiliar. If I'm ever feeling desperately homesick, I'll just quote Pocahontas and say, "What's around the river bend?"

Another way I plan on fighting my anxiety and learning about the culture is by making new friends. I figure this will be effective in multiple ways. For one, it will help me not feel lonely in a new environment, and for two, it helps with my immersion into the culture. What better way to learn about the people than through the people?

The very first challenge I can think of is the language barrier. I speak no Japanese and, while not fluent, I am more comfortable with the Korean language. But, hopefully, with friends and my immersion plan that will be fixed very quickly.

I am still trying to figure out how I will answer any questions I may be asked regarding my American nationality as I am still trying to figure that out. The best answer I can give is just to explain my perspective on something as an American and share the reasons for things we do as Americans for those who are curious. I'm sure that will be a learning experience all on its own independent of the school environment. It might be a hard lesson, but it's one that I think is worth learning.

Blog #2: An American Abroad

In January 2017, I had the amazing opportunity to go on a Travel Study trip to New Zealand. Before that trip I had traveled a lot domestically but barely any internationally. I learned so much on my travel study trip and I feel that I will be able to use most of the skills learned on my full semester abroad. I think I will have more challenges on my semester in Norway rather than when I went to New Zealand because I will be going alone rather than with a group of people I know. I know I have made friends quickly when coming to MC but after researching the culture of Norway, I know there are some social interaction differences. I feel that I will be happy just being in another country and will be able to entertain myself until I can pick up on the social cues around.
I feel that I am rather aware of my surroundings and pay close attention to situations I am in. I think this will benefit me while learning about and adapting to a new culture. I plan to use these strengths to adapt more quickly and more efficiently when integrating into Nord University. I also hope that this will help me develop my skills for cultural assimilation.

I would not consider myself the “typical” American due to my views. I experienced many stereotypes in New Zealand and I expect no less when going to Norway. I hope that during my time there I will be able to break some of the stereotypes held there and also show that everyone can have different views. I think US citizens get a bad reputation in many countries and I think it is partly the job of American travelers to make sure we don’t fall into that bad reputation.

Ol' Beller : An American Abroad - Blog 2

Aspects of my identity (likely acquired from the "American way") I hope to bring to Italy are my open mind and freedom of expression.

A worry of mine was the fact that I naturally speak as fast as a hummingbird’s heartbeat. We’re talkin’ so fast that native English speakers sometimes struggle to keep up. While I can bear in mind this trait and try to slow down, it can be hard to change. In class, I learned that my personality leans more towards being high-context, which I find fitting and may be able to use to my advantage. Although I often stray off topic, I tend to be observant of body language and vibes during interactions. This awareness usually helps the flow of social connections.

Reading up on common Italian personality traits, some sources say that they are super sociable and sometimes keep chatting with people who know zero Italian. (Relatable, I enjoy a good bonding session too. Facciamo pace!) I underestimated how much I enjoy spontaneous adventures and new people, and had convinced myself that those were the biggest obstacles I’d face.  

Still, I’ve come to realize challenges that remain after the context inventory made me consider how much one’s background plays into conversation. Despite where I am, I always take into consideration others’ differing backgrounds/perspective when meeting people. However, I rely on humor for the majority of my interactions, and my eccentricity and outlandishness may translate as offensive or inappropriate. This can hopefully be remedied and prevented through cultural research. Advice that I’m thinking of taking is to befriend an Italian before my trip and learn through them. (Maybe a pen-pal, or anyone interested on social media.)

Blog 2: An American Abroad

When it comes to interpreting the surveys, I guess I can say that I agree with many typical American views. Sure, I like the use of buzzwords like freedom and independence, but many others do as well. Simple words and statements do not work well when describing a person.

With the popular belief that Americans are super outgoing, I’m a bit worried about how I’m supposed to fit in. I like the idea of making new friends, but I’m terrible at approaching and conversing with strangers. With this challenge, I’m determined to be more open and be the one who first initiates things. I hope that people will try to understand me as an individual rather than comparing me to other Americans.

In Japan, the culture and language are very high-context so I know I must pay more attention and take care when speaking with others. When it comes to my identity, I’m a bit guarded. I am willing to answer any questions or discuss any beliefs, but I don’t want to always go around advertising my opinions. I just hope people will try to understand me as an individual rather than assuming an incorrect stereotype.