Acculturation And How It Influences Intercultural Communication

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After finishing the intercultural communication competence (ICC) course, I learnt a huge amount of knowledge through some specific examples from various countries. This course goes in details with definition, categorization, patterns and effects of intercultural communication. In the eyes of academic study, phenomena are analyzed and explained generally. I would like to analyze an example and explain according to my awareness of this subject.

In the globalize world, more and more people go to abroad for work and study. Culture shock has been widely present in intercultural communication. Where there is cultural communication, there is culture shock. It can be illustrated by a simple case.

A Chinese girl, who is a college student, experienced long-term acculturation when she came here at first. One day, she went to the bank to ask for the statement. When she arrived there, the officer told her that the statement must be posted, and she could not get it right away. She explained that it was urgently needed for visa, but the officer still insisted on his decision, which made her upset and frustrated. As opposed to it, in China, one can get a bank statement at any time.

With her matter, this is a type of acculturation in intercultural communication competence (ICC). Acculturation can take different forms and have different outcomes, relying on the strategy adopted by the people or groups involved in the exchange of culture. The strategy used will be decided by whether the person or group believes it is important to maintain their original culture, and how significant it is to them to create and maintain relationships with the greater community and society whose culture differs from their own. In this circumstance, I prefer integration among five strategies to solve the issue.

Integration: This strategy is used when both maintaining the original culture and adapting to the new one which are considered important. Adopt the influential culture while also maintaining own culture. This is a common strategy of acculturation and can be observed among many immigrant communities and those with a high proportion of ethnic or racial minorities.

A foreign student, literally is a Chinese student, study abroad in Japan. However, she did not make endeavor to spend time on researching the administrative procedure as well as the culture in Japan. Hence, because of having bad well-prepared, her request could not be made though she was in hurry.

I would like to suggest her some useful advices or methods in case she will need in the future.

  • Prepare well for your experience.
  • Make yourself aware of any noticeable culture differences.
  • Spend time daily to reflect in order to process your experiences.
  • Make use of your host university’s support system such as student affairs or study abroad office.
  • Keep a sense of humor about yourself and the situation.
  • Listen and observe rather than merely watching or hearing.
  • Acknowledge that there are different conceptions of time.
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People will experience the effect of cultural differences in varying degrees from an ethnic region to a completely different one, especially to go to work, study and live abroad. The set of symbols, customs, behavior patterns, social relations will be superseded by another set they are not familiar, which may bring about psychological anxiety, emotional instability, and even depression. In severe circumstances, it can bring to several of psychological and physical diseases, worse, even mental problems or suicide. This is absolutely culture shock.

Culture shock has been an important source of interpersonal stress and conflict for those who are in a multicultural society. Generally speaking, culture shock is a phenomenon of cultural loss and mental imbalance, and it also can be seen as a process of the evolution of mental state in unfamiliar cultural settings. People experience varying degrees of culture shock. There are many factors affecting culture shock and the individual reactions, including previous experience with other cultures and cross-cultural adaptation, the degree of difference in one’s own and the host culture, the degree of preparation, social support networks, and individual psychological characteristics. (Furnham & Bochner, 1986)

Nowadays, international students are playing an increasingly significant role in different countries, especially in western countries. They spend much money and time for higher education. After completing the study, they usually go back home or stay to get a superior job. Only if they conquer cultural shock can they continue learning and have the opportunity to carry out their dream. Otherwise, it will be an enormous time and money consuming. Doubtlessly, these students have become inevitable for the study of culture shock.

In general, acculturation is a process toward which a person or group from one culture comes to adopt the practices and values of another culture, while still retaining their own distinct culture. This process is most commonly discussed regarding a minority culture adopting components of majority culture, as is typically the case with immigrant groups that are culturally or ethnically distinct from the majority in the place to which they have immigrated.

Nevertheless, acculturation is a two-way process, so those within the majority culture often adopt elements of minority cultures with which they come into contact. The process plays out between groups where neither is essentially a majority or a minority. It can happen at both group and individual levels and can happen as a result of in-person contact or contact through art, literature, or media.

Acculturation is not the same as the process of assimilation, though some people use the words interchangeably. Assimilation can be an eventual outcome of the acculturation process, but the process can have other outcomes too, embracing rejection, integration, marginalization, and transmutation.

Culture differences can happen anywhere, anytime with anyone. There are some advantages of culture differences in life. Firstly, in general, cultural differences causes behavior and personality differences like thinking which leads to the multi ideas. It promotes the productivity in business as well as the appealing to each other. Secondly, it helps an individual outstanding in a strange culture. If a person travels or moves to a foreign country, he may feel lonely among the crowd. However, in a positive way, culture differences make him more outstanding than ever. He can show talent he got or do something strange without any comments. Last but not least, culture differences help people to behave in a proper way. With the same action, in this country it is normal but it may be rude in another one. For instance, it is usual when asking about age of women in Vietnam, but it turns to be impolite in another country, especially in Europe. The more differences we know about culture, the more courteous people may feel about us.

In sum up, this subject – intercultural communication competence (ICC) brought to me a variety of thorough knowledge and consciousness of culture in the world. It is extremely important to the one who might work in English environment, which help them to act more properly and politely. I have learnt a lot and it is really useful to me – a third year student who is going to graduate in more than a year. Thanks to this semester’ class, more compliments are given to me, which make me more excited than ever.

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