Cultural definitions, confusion and change


 The first months of living abroad come with all kinds of both surprising and well-anticipated challenges. A different language plays a big part – especially in an academic environment –as well as different habits and general culture. Don’t get me wrong, experiencing a new culture is the best. It’s why you choose to live abroad! It broadens your horizons and helps you start thinking from multiple perspectives.

 As one could logically predict, everything worth having comes with effort, so I am not going to lie. It takes time. Especially in such a multicultural environment, where there is, of course, the English frame but everyone comes from a different home.

 You will be surprised to find out how people will not usually fit in the stereotypes you expected them to.  A nation of people could never fit in one description and that is what you’ll soon come to realise once you find yourself away from home, but the general idea of how things work could be different and will explain what I mean by that right away.

 Each small community, even more so every large country, finds its own way of organising how things work. What are the rules and what are those unspoken rules that run down generations. That is what you have to adapt to and make yourself a part of; timetables, mannerism, humour, appropriate and inappropriate language, levels of forwardness etc. It is not as easy as it seems and there is no other way to learn that making the mistakes, which will seem very embarrassing and equally inevitable.

 Learning through mistakes is something that is not particularly encouraged in todays global society. Education focuses on the right and urges young people to be competitive and strike for perfection. It keeps being implied that perfection is doable – the most obvious source being social media but – even by tutors at school. We are given tips of how to write the perfect essay, we read articles on how to wear the perfect outfit and we are looking for the perfect partner. It is something we encounter every day and it is quite hard to escape. That’s why a process that is able to be completed only by making mistakes feels strange. You kind of wish there was a book that would prepare you for everything but there isn’t and that is exactly what will make you grow as a person.

 Finding yourself and re-defining who you are in a different cultural setting is a great adventure and a big opportunity for those changes you always wanted to make in your heart.

have a magical  day,

by Elena Ktenopoulou

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