“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”- Marcel Proust
Since long ago, people had traveled the world in order to discover new places. The curiosity of what they might find after the horizon led them to leave their home behind and find the answers. Traveling outside our country can be both exciting and overwhelming. Whether we travel for leisure or work, there are a lot of small things to plan and take care of before we hit the road. With this said, I would like to point out one more thing to take in consideration when visiting or moving to another country: our ethnocentrism. The definition says that “ethnocentrism is judging another culture solely by the values and standards of one’s own culture and often occurs when people face cultural diversity. ” A way to avoid it is being aware and keeping an open mind about people’s different ethnic backgrounds.
A fine line between pride and ethnocentrism.
There is a fine line between being proud of our own provenience and being ethnocentric, and we must not confuse one with the other. Being proud of our own cultural legacy means to cherish and appreciate our heritage while accepting that other cultures have theirs. On the other hand, ethnocentrism is the sum of prejudice, cultural bias, and over generalization based on one’s own cultural viewpoint. At some point most of us will show or feel disagreement toward the belief of another ethnic group because it comes naturally to consider that our own way is the only right way. However, it is very important to keep our ethnocentricity in check, and try to understand that each culture has something amazing to offer to this world. Keeping in mind that people have different cultural backgrounds, histories, and most likely another lifestyle might be helpful when it comes to comprehending their norms and values.
The time I might have been a little ethnocentric was during a cultural exchange program in Belgium, and I have to say that my home country is in Europe as well. Even though at the time I first moved I considered myself an open-minded person with some international friends on the list, I must admit that it wasn’t easy to deal with all the cultural differences. Long story short , it took me about half a year to understand that the best way to adjust in the new country was to stop comparing my culture with theirs and try to understand why people do what they do . That led me to the idea that there are no good or bad cultures , they are just different and we have to accept them as they are. Moreover, the sooner we accept that people don’t have to think, act, or live the way we consider to be right, the more chances we have to enjoy the foreign country, trip, work experience or any other situations that involves intercultural communication. I like to think that we all learn from our own experiences becoming a wiser and a kinder person in the end. In my personal case, exposing myself to a whole different mindset was the best thing that could ever happen to me, because it opened my mind in ways I couldn’t even fathom before.
So let’s leave our ethnocentrism at home and bring instead our good will, good manners and most important respect, respect for those people who don’t have or share the same cultural values and norms as we do, and in return let’s hope we will receive the same.