Cultural identification has often been characterized by demographics. People living within the same geographical have been known to share languages, beliefs, and values. Globalization is a more recent trend that has challenged this setting. In a globalized world, intercultural interactions defy the demographical rule of regional cultural uniformity. People who are in different time zones can interact on a daily basis and influence each other’s behavior. Programs such as the student exchange have further complicated this issue, as people from entirely different backgrounds study in the same schools and colleges. This is the phenomena that defines my life and studies in Canada. I am a native of China whose parents opted for me to seek a western education. In the following response, I attempt to discuss the characteristics of my Chinese culture and the role it plays in my life in Canada. I also aim to explore the intercultural communication experiences of Chinese students residing in Canada. I will also give examples of adaptations I have had to make to lead a more comfortable life in the west.
The Chinese culture generally encourages a more restrained demeanor where one is expected to be social to certain limited extents. This makes it challenging for any Chinese person living in Canada to interlink even when it is necessary. Interactions between the two societies has led to the adaptation of Eastern alternative medicine in Canada and other western nations, while young Chinese urban dwellers have a western-inspired sense of fashion. Among the many changes that I have had to make, the most impactful is the ability to many make new friends as students often have social media accounts. This means that I fall under the integration part of the DMIS spectrum. The social networking trend has enabled many eastern natives to make more friends thus making the stay worth the while.
Characteristics of the Chinese Culture
The Chinese culture is mostly influenced by Buddhism, a religion that encourages reclusion among other values. It is this tradition and practice that makes myself and other Chinese students who come to Canada prefer to keep to themselves. For example, I prefer the Canadian education system to one presented in my home province in China primarily due to the globalized view of studies here. I hope to work in an occupation that allows me to travel and meet different cultures, thus experiencing such an educational setting was necessary. Despite this, a lifetime of Chinese Buddhist-inspired culture leads to occasional and unintended seclusion (Guang, 2013). Consequently, in as much as I am becoming increasingly approachable and interactive, having some time for myself to reflect will always come naturally.
The culture I was raised in is also communal in a sense that is mostly lacking here in Canada. For example, I am always responsible for my siblings, friends, neighbors, and relatives (Ma, 2015). It is not uncommon to find that I know a lot about these people and tend to follow up on things happening in their lives, each time encouraging them to make sure they realize the best versions of themselves in life. Such sincere concern is rare in the west. Most people are often absorbed in their lives and hardly find time for other people’s issues. This is ironic especially considering the limitless interactions that people have with each other. As a result, my culturally acquired sense of concern is often interpreted as intrusion.
Intercultural Communication in a Globalized World
The main aspects of cultural diversity that I have noticed in Canada are the rise in popularity of eastern ideologies like alternative medicine and yoga. These forms of treatment and exercise are a standard in the East and have come to be widely embraced in Canada (Chiu, 2006). Noticing a yoga class, student, or an alternative medicine hub offering services such as acupuncture among others are daily occurrences. Such popular trends are part of many eastern cultures dating back centuries. I was surprised to know that they are considered trendy in the western societies. The shared knowledge between these two societies has therefore led Canadians to try traditions synonymous with China instead of just shunning them away for more technology appealing lifestyles.
After my stay in Canada, I have come to realize that much of the emerging definition of being a gentleman in most Chinese urban populations is increasingly western inspired. The rise in trend of men’s magazines that encourage consumerism as part of a 21st Century description of a man appear to have their origins in the west (O’Cass & Siahtiri, 2014). For example, GQ has become a popular urban men’s magazine often inspiring young Chinese men to seek chiseled bodies and purchase commodities that are hardly of Eastern origin. Expensive cars, clothes, and jewelry are often from western companies like Rolex, Mercedes, and Louis Vuitton. The cross-cultural interactions have thus led to the adaption of an appetite for western commodities among young Chinese men.
During my stay in Canada, I have had to adapt certain cultures to bot fit in and make the visit here more fruitful. For example, prior to my arrival in Canada, I was heavily invested on WeChat. The social media site is the most popular in China, and functions as the western equivalent of Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram (Snapchat), and eBay all combined into one. I have had to open an account in all these sites as virtually everyone else I am in contact with in Canada is in either one or all of them due to their proper functionality for locals (Warkentin, Charles-Pauvers & Chau, 2015). The need to make new friends in the Canadian society has thus led to my opening new online accounts.
Based on these adaptations, my part in the DMIS spectrum is that of integration. I have a relatively good command in English and am thus able to interact freely in the new array of social sites popular in Canada. Integration means that I am past the acceptance and adaptation stages and am now actively seeking to be part of the Canadian society. Although adaptation is a continuing process, I have accomplished enough to allow me to find complete integration into Canadian society.
Shifting from a socially restrained demeanor to a society of limitless interactions has been impressive. Nonetheless, it is such interactions between that have led to the adaptation of Eastern alternative medicine in Canada. The cultural exchange has seen some young Chinese urban dwellers in native China acquire western-inspired sense of fashion. The most impactful change I have had to make is developing a habit of making new friends, which has been made easier by students having social media accounts. I thus fall under the integration part of the DMIS spectrum.
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Guang, X. (2013). Buddhist Impact on Chinese Culture. Asian Philosophy, 23(4), 305-322. doi: 10.1080/09552367.2013.831606
Ma, G. (2015). Food, eating behavior, and culture in Chinese society. Journal of Ethnic Foods, 2(4), 195-199. doi: 10.1016/j.jef.2015.11.004
O’Cass, A., & Siahtiri, V. (2014). Are young adult Chinese status and fashion clothing brand conscious? Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal, 18(3), 284-300. doi: 10.1108/jfmm-03-2012-0013
Warkentin, M., Charles-Pauvers, B., & Chau, P. (2015). Cross-cultural IS research: perspectives from Eastern and Western traditions. European Journal of Information Systems, 24(3), 229-233. doi: 10.1057/ejis.2015.7