Nowadays, intercultural communication is one of the essential aspects of human life in society because globalization brought people together from different parts of the world. Personal and business correspondence, political and cultural dialogue, all forms of cooperation require to know and consider the characteristics of partners associated with their self-identification context and its features.
The study of intercultural communication is a prerequisite for its successful implementation in studying, living, and working situations that can help to foster good relationships with others. This essay will discuss the meanings and practices of culture within the current living and learning context of the author, including cultural perspectives, intercultural communication, impacts of globalization, and other features.
Characteristics of Culture
Like any other person, I have specific cultural features that define my current life context. Since I am a Chinese student studying in Canada, my cultural environment is diverse. My community at the university is culturally heterogeneous because I am studying with students who came from different countries and have their unique backgrounds. At the same time, the community of Chinese people in Canada and China is strong.
Thus, I communicate with other people who have similar family traditions and principles that Chinese people have a strong affinity to. Close preferences in food, interests, and values have a significant impact on my interaction with others. I do not see similar support coming from the community of Canadian people in comparison to Asian people, which is also one of the main cultural characteristics of my life context.
There are several cultural perspectives and beliefs I hold and tend to stick to. One of the ideas that are commonly shared by Chinese people is luck; people look for symbols of luck and interpret them as signs for the situation. Another belief that is strongly connected with my home country is that everyone is responsible for the country’s welfare or fall. Thus, each person should be aware of the consequences of actions and be accountable for the state’s prosperity.
My cultural perspectives stem from a Chinese background and emphasize the necessity to respect each person when communicating and consider the experience of a person. Nevertheless, my attitudes have changed since the time I moved from China to Canada.
I started recognizing diversity better as I met people because my university welcomes multiculturalism, which is discussed by Liu, Volcic & Gallois as a social context with increased diversity and coexistence of different cultures (2018). As it is suggested to consider the background of a person coming from a different region, my perspectives have a positive impact on interactions with people from other cultural contexts (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2018). However, specific difficulties in the interpretation of actions, humor, and narratives also exist due to language barriers that reflect the cultural perspectives of Western people that I do not have.
Intercultural Communication in a Globalized World
Five widely known cultural dimensions are usually used to evaluate intercultural communication. Professor Hofstede introduced several cultural directions, such as individualism-collectivism, masculinity-femininity, and power distance (Beugelsdijk & Welzel, 2018).
I believe that some dimensions of culture have an impact on intercultural communication in my life context because China and Canada have different cultural backgrounds. While Canada has quite strong individualism, China represents collectivist culture. Thus, I usually need to balance my tendency to become collectivist over the necessity to adapt and have a more individualistic approach. The power distance that is low in Canada and is aimed to minimize differences of people is high in China, emphasizing the necessity to tolerate inequalities. Therefore, while communicating with people from other cultures, I can neglect unbalanced views better than Canadians that would undoubtedly notice and question it.
One can state that globalization and marketization have substantially influenced the development of cultural diversity. One of the examples that I can recognize as a part of my usual experience is visiting Chinatown that my friends and I like to do during weekends. Chinatowns that grew across the world and became well-known parts of various cities show both local and global aspects of cultural diversity. Chinese markets found consumers due to globalization that allowed Chinese people to move and settle around the world, and marketization that acknowledged the demand for authentic products that people were used to before migration. In this case, cultural diversity is expressed in several aspects, such as a unique representation of Asian communities in Canada and the support from local Canadians of the business.
My day-to-day experience also includes working on projects with students from various countries. Due to globalization, I was able to move and study in another state that increased my interactions with people who have different backgrounds, traditions, values, and beliefs. At the local level, the ability of foreigners to live, work, or study in Canada represents a global trend of increased cultural diversity that authorities of the country aim to achieve (Brosseau & Dewing, 2018).
During the studying process, historical aspects of cultural diversity also arise. For instance, I sometimes work on projects with teams, where members are more acquainted with a Canadian background. Therefore, in this situation, we can benefit from local knowledge and insights that exist in the cultural context of the state and can develop more targeted solutions. Overall, there are both local and global aspects of cultural diversity that people experience today due to globalization and international communication. The current state of cultural diversity requires people to adapt quickly and encounter the consequences of words and actions to ensure that they are appropriate.
There are models and patterns developed to assess how people become interculturally flexible. One of them is the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS) that proposed the stages of experience an individual goes through when communicating and interacting with other cultures (Bennett, 2013). The steps are the following: denial, defense, minimization, acceptance, adaptation, and integration. The first three dimensions represent the ethnocentrism concept, which means experiencing one’s culture as central (Bennett, 2013). In comparison, the other three aspects embody the ethnorelativism concept, which suggests experiencing one’s culture in the context of different cultures (Bennett, 2013). I would say that currently, I position myself at the stage between acceptance and adaptation of DMIS.
When I first came to Canada, I might have been at a different stage of DMIS. However, nowadays, I try to adapt to intercultural interactions in daily situations and accumulate knowledge of other cultures. Living and studying in the country of high cultural diversity required to acquire knowledge and organize it in a way that I can use it to guide myself in various interactions with others in Canada. I learned that adaptation and the ability to understand other culture’s experiences empathetically is an essential approach that helps to be more flexible and successful.
Talking about examples of ow I adapted to different cultures in Canada, I can say that I was able to gain substantial experience in collaboration with others. One of the central examples of how I adapted to the cultural context in Canada is changes in my daily habits. I started eating heavy breakfasts as some Canadians do, became more open and smiley as Americans that live in Canada are, started getting interested in sports activities that people in the country usually pay attention to, such as hockey. I believe that it is impossible not to change your habits and behavior in another country because the environment of Canada, for instance, is entirely different from China.
Another example of how I adapted to different cultures abroad was when I was overseas. Some of the temples in Asia require you to change clothing when entering the religious places to show respect to the traditions of the religion and its followers. When you wear specific clothes, you accept the culture of another country or religion and adapt to the situation as it is requested and welcomed. Therefore, I inevitably change my perception of what is appropriate or not with people from other cultures.
To conclude, one might say that the understanding of practices of culture within the current living context is essential when it comes to communication and interaction with people from various cultures. Globalization, marketization, and other international shifts have changed the environment of countries, making them more interrelated and connected. The interaction of cultures reveals both positive consequences, such as enrichment of culture, and negative ones, such as suppression of traditions. What is evident is that nowadays, it is impossible to avoid contact with people from different countries, which means that any person should adapt to the situation to communicate effectively and work together productively.
Liu, S., Volcic, Z., & Gallois, C. (2018). Introducing intercultural communication: Global cultures and contexts (3rd ed.). Sage.
Bennett, M. J. (2013). Basic concepts of intercultural communication: Paradigms, principles, and practices (2nd ed.). Intercultural Press.
Beugelsdijk, S., & Welzel, C. (2018). Dimensions and dynamics of national culture: Synthesizing Hofstede with Inglehart. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 49(10), 1469-1505. Web.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2018). How people learn II: Learners, contexts, and cultures. The National Academies Press.
Brosseau, L., & Dewing, M. (2018). Canadian Multiculturalism. Library of Parliament, Canada.