As the weeks progresses by, I can honestly say that studying abroad, specifically, in Spain has brought many conversations about special topics about culture. In many of my classes, we discuss the continuum and values of how cultural dimensions characterize the structure of a society`s structure. From comparing and contrasting U.S. culture to Spain`s culture, there are numerous differences that a person can notice in their everyday life. In the Guide 9: Studying Abroad and Learning Abroad activity sheet, Thiederman gives specific descriptions on how different values affect different cultures. In Chapter 5: “CultureLearning, Values, and Ethical Choices”, the author gives us certain scenarios we may deem as appalling, intriguing, weird, or have a neutral response. He highlighted this to express that in different cultures, these same scenarios will be perceived differently because a group of people perceives a different interpretation to the situation. Learning about accepting a culture`s interpretations, values, and ethics guided me through my meeting with Silvia Sintes. Silvia is a student at a local college in Barcelona, and I wanted to select her for my interview to relate to her in age bracket and to have an insight to her country`s history, and if she thinks the current values people in Catalunya holds will change in the future.
It is important to discuss the different cultural mindsets and values from a person from the host culture because he or she has a huge understanding to why their society behaves the way it behaves. In the Chapter 5:: “CultureLearning, Values, and Ethical Choices”of the , the author included the scenarios of kicking a cow, or public urination, he was urging the reader to think about how acceptance of different cultures morality and perceptions are linked to values and culture.Daniel Hess explains this future by using Myron Lustig`s example saying ” In a sense, a culture`s values provide the basic assumptions that guide thought and action. By providing its members with shared beliefs and thoughts about the “right” and “proper” ways of behaving, cultures provide the context within which individual values develop” (1988, 56)” Since Silvia is a member of Barcelona`s culture, she is my link to knowing about the origins of these values, assumptions, and deeper – sub textual historical analogies that I could not find anywhere else. I fully enjoyed our talk and I was nice getting to know about Spain.
During the interview, I focused on certain topics that deals with different cultural values that are different than the United States. When I asked Silvia about if Spain is more traditional or change oriented in terms of innovation or ideas she gave me an interesting response. “In my opinion, Spain is more oriented in a traditional way in terms of innovation and ideas, obviously in some things they are innovating a lot and they are more open minded than then but I think they are still more traditional in a lot of things. I think that this is changing now with new generations growing but there’s a lot to do.” I then proceeded to ask if Spain centers its focus on the youth or the wise. The youth question deals with individualism and collectivism since more collectivist countries put more importance on the elderly than the youth. However, it seems as if Spain is becoming more individualist than collectivist. Silvia replied “Nowadays I feel like people are more focused on themselves than then. Personally I think that we have ‘’forgot’’ the wise or the elder people and sometimes we should listen to them because they know a lot that we don’t. I think that this problem is the same in so many countries because nowadays the society is more focused on themselves and the youth think that they know everything, a way of thinking that in my opinion is terribly wrong.” Cultures in the eastern hemisphere, like China and India if more hierarchical than egalitarian. Even though the United States thinks of itself as egalitarian in terms of social class, race, gender etc, it has been proven that this is not the case. It amazes me how she said Spain is more hierarchical than equal, because there’s no mid-term between social classes, generally or you are rich or you’re ‘’poor’’. The economic crisis in Spain has corrupted politicial power and have removed the mid class, there’s no equality between all the citizens of this country. We can see these concepts happening a lot, especially in the United States. Talking to her made me reflect on the abc`s of culture. I was lead into the interview perceiving certain things, but by being open and optimistic I learned about how differences and similarities between people and culture affect certain values and how we communicate with each other.
After the interview, I reflected on what it must be like to be in Silvia`s shoes. I placed myself in Silvia`s position by thinking about the values and beliefs some of my fellow classmates at QU hold that are similar to Spanaird Culture. One of the values I think is really strong at QU is greek life. I have never had any derogatory feelings towards that organization, but some of the stories and stereotypes that are attached to the affiliation with greek life have given me apprehensions. Personally, sitting down with girls or guys in a greek organization would be similar if Silvia went to class with U.S. students in an “All American” college. The main reason I have not participated in this organization is the uncertainty of knowing the purpose of the organization. . However, I think of the Panhellenic Community similar to Spain`s group- oriented culture because the value of interdependence is as strong in a sorority as it is in Spain. While individualism is progressively growing in spain, the idea of honoring friendships and relationships is equivalent to what is like to be in a Sorority. Spainards of course have their own rite of passage when initiating friendships, but I now see the reasoning behind being in greek life.
I thanked Silvia for sitting down with me and told her that this interview was more than just a conversation, it was a way to realize why societies underwritten values of culture come about, and learning about other cultural dimensions is the only learn and other stand how each culture relates to one another. I was not able to have a picture of the both of us together, but below is a picture of Silvia Sintes. Silvia would be deemed as a trustee mentor of the never ending communitas I am growing in Spain.
Hess, J. Daniel. Studying Abroad/learning Abroad: An Abridged Edition of The Whole World Guide to Culture Learning. Yarmouth, Me., USA: Intercultural, 1997. Print.