Two families, One World #Blogpost 4 #Evaluating Intercultural Behavior

“I would like to cordially invite you to my place this saturday evening at 7pm onwards for an evening of home cooked indian dinner, with some drinks and great company”

The invitation instantly triggered all this questions in my head.

“What to wear?”
“What to bring?”
“How to behave?”
“What to talk about?”

When going to a dinner at a friends place I was raised that you should bring a gift , a bottle of wine, flowers, something saying “Thank you for having me”. Due to three midterms this week I barely had time to get myself dressed for this event. Therefore I was going through every cupboard in the apartment searching for a proper gift. After ditching the idea of bringing washing powder, hat, photo of myself or note book, I decided to go for a tray with painted swedish horses (sorry mom but it is absolutely horrible) and a grapefruit.

On my way in a cab with tray and fruit I must say I was a bit shaky. It was not the nervousness that occur before an exam, this was better, a weird version of excitement.

I always find it interesting to meet new people and try new things. Keeping an open mind have given me so much in terms of experiences and new friends here in Singapore. This dinner party was no different. If you boil it down it dose not matter where you are from, what color your skin is or what you believe in. We all find happiness in similar things. It does not matter if you celebrate christmas 24th of December, 25th of December or do not celebrate christmas at all. You can always adapt to the way they do it where you are at the moment or keep your own tradition if you prefer.

From my experience what do matter is the reality we are raised in. In Sweden it is natural to asume that everyone is born equal and free to do what they want with their life. To me it seems that most times this is not the case here in Singapore. Young people are under a lot more pressure to do well from a very young age (referring to the school system) and later on support their parents and sometimes grandparents. If I decide to go for an exchange on the other side of the world or if I decide to get a girlfriend instead of boyfriend my parents are expected to support that decision, even if they do not like it. Not every one had the privileged being raised during this “free” conditions. But they probably love their parents as much as I love mine any way.

My evaluation is that if you always keep in mind that people come from homes with different conditions and accept that fact, you will gain a better understanding and there will be no intercultural conflicts but more intercultural experiences. Which I believe makes your life richer and you will become a better person.

Sometimes Singapore makes me feel like Tarzan, he is quite cool though, so I guess it is alright.

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5 thoughts on “Two families, One World #Blogpost 4 #Evaluating Intercultural Behavior

  1. Renick Lee says:

    Hi Sofie,
    You are a really conscientious guest, the kind of foreign individual I really appreciate. The questions you asked yourself, keeping an open mind, celebrating similarities, respecting differences, are things that could fundamentally solve most intercultural conflicts.
    Some minor changes:
    1) “…triggered all THESE…”
    2) “…a friend’S place…”
    3) “… that occurs before an exam…”
    4) “… open mind HAS given me…”
    5) “… it DOES not matter…”
    6) “… Christmas ON THE 24th…”
    7) “… what MATTERS / DOES matter is…”
    8) “… HAS the PRIVILEGE OF being raised IN THESE…” keep this sentence in the same tense as the next?
    9) “… intercultural experiences, which I believe…” Join the sentences?

  2. eunicea says:

    Hi Sofie!

    Your search for a gift was both amusing and endearing. It reminded me of my wrecking my brain for original gift ideas for my home stay host (eventually I sprinted to the nearest bakery to get moon cakes and paper lanterns 1/2 hour before I left for the airport).

    I am of the same mind about the universality of being human; it is one of the basic starting points in finding common grounds to understand another person, regardless of where they are from. Nevertheless, there are some major cultural differences which shape our approaches to life. I think that in most Asian countries, emphasis is placed on “the great scheme of things”, with the individual tending to come last. Which is why parents’ approval are considered more important than the children’s, because the well-being of the family is “greater” than that of one person; that of the society is “greater” than the family, and so on. On the one hand, such communal attitudes are theoretically upheld for the interests of “sustaining the self through the well-being of those around us”. However, I also feel that sometimes individuals have to be given room to be their own persons first before they can function properly as parents, siblings, etc.

    • sosinasia says:

      Hi Eunice,
      Thank you for the thoughtful comment.
      I guess we need to find the balance between the greater and ourselfs. How to do that is a totally different story 🙂

  3. Brad says:

    As I have come to expect, this is another fascinating post that gets to the heart of the matter. You focus on your own way of responding to the dinner invitation, and how in Sweden you would be expected to bring certain items. I especially like the imagery of you rummaging through cupboards for a gift, an experience many of us can relate to since we have done the same.)

    But this is just a pretext for a broader discussion, of how similar “we” are, of the pressures put on Singaporean youth, of the liberal attitude of most Swedish parents.

    The only thing I feel might be missing here is one or two sentences describing the dinner itself and whether or not your expectations were met.

    Thanks for the effort, Sofie!

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