Culture Originally published 7/10/11
Wikipedia defines culture as "the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture, accessed 10 July 2011)
The idea of "becoming" a different culture - because that eventually is what happens when you move to another country, in that you become a melange of two different cultures - is both exciting and terrifying. Will I like the food? Will I like the people? Will I enjoy their pastimes? (I was so disappointed to see France doesn't enjoy American Happy Hour like I want them too!)
Living here for a year, I've spent some time thinking about the kind of impact changing cultures has had on me. To be honest, I initially tried to scrap all my past cultural values and replace them with new and different experiences. I started with small things, like eating baguettes and jam, croissant, and an espresso for breakfast (and at the relief of Scott and me, I really enjoy making bacon & eggs now!!). Over time, I noticed it in more global areas, like laughing when people made jokes about Americans or how messed up our economy is, or not standing up for the values & beliefs I've had my whole life. However, I have come to see that, sometimes, moving away from what you have always known is sometimes the best medicine for appreciating what you value.
However, I'm learning now to embrace those things about American culture I value as part of my life experience and be OK with not liking certain things about French culture. I am the type of person who can appreciate and see the value in most any person, country, culture, and life experience (I have first my Dad and secondly Scott to thank for that!). But I am dealing with the incorrect (and unhealthy) connection that longing for a part of my home culture means I have failed at integrating French culture completement. The reality is, there are parts of every culture that aren't healthy or worthy of acceptance. As my understanding of the French language grows (and in turn as Je comprends people more), I come to appreciate an expression Scott has used often. "It's always the same people, just in a different town in a different place."
As it applies to our life now, I think I have a long way to go in understanding how culture influences me. But the sub-culture of the Legion has reminded me daily of what is truly important, and what things will go by the wayside in a month, a year, a decade, a century. And, in my opinion, that is the TRUE test of what should be valued and gained from every culture in the world.
My personal melange (my work in progress) .....I'm from the Land of the Free & the Home of the Brave, most people envy my nationality, I represent NYC to LA, I'm the daughter (& sister) of Harley bikers, I'm a beach loving California girl, I love helping teens & families, I am cautious of anything that demands I accept it without question, I will always love Happy Hour Hot Wings & $1 Bud Light Drafts, I love FRENCH fries the best, there's still nothing like a Super Sized Diet Coke, I will always prefer cities where restaurants serve breakfast, lunch, or dinner all day long (but I also love forced lunch breaks) , I love outlet shopping, Free Internet Delivery, TARGET stores, ROSS, I love speaking French!, Merlot (Australian, French, Californian), Greek/Roman influence in architecture & history, True friends are few & far between, The glass is always half full for me, My children will see me as someone who doesn't judge others but can discern which people will only bring me down, Relational wealth should always increase with Financial wealth.