Living abroad is good for your personal development


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In contrast to the majority of early and some recent literature which see culture shock as a negative construct, a positive view is offered by Juffer (1987) who considers culture shock to be caused by a “growth experience” in which change and transition are synonym of potential growth and personal development (cited in Pedersen 2005). Most of the recent literature tends to support this positive assumption. As a matter of fact, Furnham and Bochner (1986) state: “The implication is that although it may be strange and possibly difficult, sojourning makes a person more adaptable, flexible and insightful”(p.47).

In addition, recent empirical research about growth the potential of the sojourn demonstrate that although the visitor faces difficulties to adapt to the new environment, there is also an increase in awareness and understanding of oneself (Kauffmann et al., 1992 cited in Pedersen 1995), in the interest towards cross-culture issues, and a more critical attitude toward one’s culture (Carlson & Widaman, 1988, cited in Pedersen 1995). Kim (2001), asserts that the difficulties faced when experiencing culture shock lead the individual to make a greater effort in changing their old ways to carry out daily activities, achieving a better quality of life in the new environment.

Gudykunst and Kim (1984) identified the stress related to the initial culture shock a characteristic of the intercultural transformation theory, according to which an individual goes through a stress-adaptation-growth dynamic which over time becomes cyclic and continual. This initial stress the individual faces living in the new culture, which is named in the literature as acculturative stress, is believed to be not necessarily unconstructive and might in fact lead to positive results. After all, the acculturation process is a step towards assimilation as the individual makes a great effort to change their cultural patterns  in order to make them suitable to the new environment.

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Living abroad makes you a better person


diversity

In contrast to the majority of early and some recent literature which see culture shock as a negative construct, a positive view is offered by Juffer (1987) who considers culture shock to be caused by a “growth experience” in which change and transition are synonym of potential growth and personal development (cited in Pedersen 2005).

Most of the recent literature tends to support this positive assumption. As a matter of fact, Furnham and Bochner (1986) state: “The implication is that although it may be strange and possibly difficult, sojourning makes a person more adaptable, flexible and insightful”(p.47).

In addition, recent empirical research about growth the potential of the sojourn demonstrate that although the visitor faces difficulties to adapt to the new environment, there is also an increase in awareness and understanding of oneself (Kauffmann et al., 1992 cited in Pedersen 1995), in the interest towards cross-culture issues, and a more critical attitude toward one’s culture (Carlson & Widaman, 1988, cited in Pedersen 1995). Kim (2001), asserts that the difficulties faced when experiencing culture shock lead the individual to make a greater effort in changing their old ways to carry out daily activities, achieving a better quality of life in the new environment.

Gudykunst and Kim (1984) identified the stress related to the initial culture shock a characteristic of the intercultural transformation theory, according to which an individual goes through a stress-adaptation-growth dynamic which over time becomes cyclic and continual. This initial stress the individual faces living in the new culture, which is named in the literature as acculturative stress, is believed to be not necessarily unconstructive and might in fact lead to positive results. After all, the acculturation process is a step towards assimilation as the individual makes a great effort to change their cultural patterns  in order to make them suitable to the new environment.

This concept was expressed by J.W. Berry (2006) who developed four acculturation options which are: assimilation, integration, rejection and deculturation. Berry (2006), preferred the term of “acculturative stress” to culture shock and was able to identify the acculturation process by gathering positive or negative answers to the following questions: “Is my cultural identity of value to be retained?” and “Are positive relations with the larger (host/dominant) culture to be sought?”

A. Furnham and S. Bochner (1986) took a step further and identified the potentially positive consequences of culture shock as part of the cultural learning process. The two researchers support a social skill approach to culture shock, where the sojourner learns the skills, roles, and rules in order to fit in the new environment. They also identified six classes of dependent variables which take place during the adjustment process and are able to work as a predictor in determining how and if the individual will be affected by culture shock. These variables are: (1) The control of conditions for initiating contact with the host culture, (2) Several intrapersonal factors such as age, previous travel experience, language skills, personal resilience, tolerance of uncertainty, personality features and more personal factors. (3) Physical health will also establish the outcomes of culture shock. (4) Interpersonal variables, such as benefiting from support and having a defined role are definitively important factors, (5) The characteristics of the host culture itself will be an important factor, (6) the geopolitical conditions in the host culture at the time of contact will be an important factor (Furnham, 1988 cited in Pedersen 1995).

According to Furnham and Bochener (1986) the outcome of cultural contact will be negative or positive depending on these variables. In this way, learning another culture actually combines the culture-learning model with a social-skills model.

For further information please contact me on raffaella@languagesalive.com

Culture diversity: Italian business meeting protocol


Benvenuti

Benvenuti

Italians as most of Southern Europeans are relationship oriented, which means they are very loquacious and prefer to establish long term business relationships. Debating is for Italians an emotional issue where intense discussion is highlighted by the expression of strong opinions and detachment means disinterest in the business itself. The establishment of a reciprocal climate of trust is as relevant as the exchange of information about a specific business proposal.

Meetings are a tool to further study the business proposal rather than closing the deal right away.Therefore, they are more analysis-oriented than decision-oriented. The aim of the first meeting is usually to exchange details and information about the business deal but above all is about establishing a climate of reciprocal respect and loyalty.

Planning your business meeting with Italians.

To avoid language misunderstandings for the first approach, a written communication is preferred. A letter or a fax is best to introduce your idea following a phone call, however, a better way is to be introduced by somebody who already knows people in the company. Meetings take place usually at company’s office in late morning or early afternoon.

For more information on Italian business etiquette contact us.

 

 

Go beyond language, discover Italian cultural awareness.


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Ok Italian gesture

Before going into the Italian business meeting protocol, I would like to give you a little introduction about the way we address to somebody in Italian and why. As in Spanish and French, in Italian there are two ways to address to somebody: informally and formally. The informal uses “tu” and the formal uses “Lei”. So, how do we use these two ways?

We use “tu” when we know somebody and they are around the same age as us, or we don’t know them but they are the same age or younger. This does not apply to a business environment. They usual greeting used is “ciao”, which we use to say hello and say bye when we are leaving.

We use “Lei” (always capital L when writing), to address formally to somebody who is older than us and we don’t know very well, remember always address with Lei as the older person could take offence otherwise. It can happen that the older person will tell you to address to them with “tu”, however, if it’s not happening, keep addressing with “Lei” even if they do address to you with “tu”.

Also, we use “Lei” when we are in a business environment and you are new to the people you are doing business with. Sometimes you will be asked to address with “tu” if it’s not happening, keep addressing with “Lei”. If you are talking to your boss or someone higher in the company, address with “Lei”. There is a strong power relationship distance in the Italian business context so the boss will have to be addressed with Lei unless specified he/she wants to be addressed with “tu”.

Formal greeting are “buongiorno” (good morning), “buonasera” (good evening), careful when you say “buonanotte” (good night) your night is finished and you are going to sleep. Another way is “arrivederci, or arrivederLa” (good-bye).

I hope this was useful, are you going to do business in Italy or relocating there? If you need more tips, do not hesitate to drop me a line at raffaella@languagesalive.com.

Next: Italian business meeting protocol.

Go beyond language, discover cultural awareness with Italian lessons at www.languagealive.com

A fierce pride – Costa Ricans and football.


costa rica

As soon as the referee whistled the end of the Italy – Costa Rica match, Costa Ricans stood up and started jumping and screaming in the grip of a wild joice. In this way Costa Ricans exulted at the end of this historic match, which saw their country going forward for the first time in the world cup’s history.

It seems to us Europeans, that such a victory achieved against Italy and the draw with England was a kind of a miracle. However, if we see more deeply, football or soccer is a massive part of Costa Rica’s culture. In fact, this sport is the most beloved national past time and it is so rooted into the culture that even the smallest towns have a public football field.

According to historians, Costa Ricans began playing soccer in 1876, however, it was but it wasn’t until 1887 that the country’s first team complete with uniforms and a regulation ball brought from England began playing in the San Jose county of Tibas. By the early 1900’s, San Jose residents had taken to playing organized games, and local sports clubs included soccer among their list of practiced sports – baseball, fencing, bicycling and horseback riding were other popular hobbies of the day.

To this date, soccer or football remained the most followed national sport. However, what I noticed was this distinct feeling of pride Costa Ricans are living in this tournament of 2014. A feeling which is so strong that make us to perceive them as fierce soldiers who are determined to win not only a battle but the war.

In conclusion, I wonder why is football culturally more powerful in some countries (where is regularly played of course) than in others? Is this sport giving the national identity a real boost or is it the other way round?

Go beyond language and culture barriers learn with us.

 

World cup, one tournament, multiple cultures


 

We´ ve got used to the football world cup taking place every 4 years, however, before 1930 the world cup did not even exist. The first time it took place was in Uruguay and only 13 teams were invited by the FIFA. Below are the winners and hosting countries since its beginning.

However, I would like to point out how the football sub-culture embraced so many cultures that it  became part of culture itself. Even people, mostly females, who do not follow football in general become all of a sudden  wild-eyed fanatics. Especially with Italians there is a togetherness feeling which usually is not present in everyday’s life.

So is the world-cup an event to be together an rediscover our roots or is it a simple tournament which generates business and out of control salaries for footballers?

What’s your opinion on this?

Winners