Adjusting to Living with a different culture

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Adjusting to Living with a different culture
There is an old proverb in Chinese culture: “It's more meaningful to travel over tens of
thousands of miles than to read tens of thousands of books.” Staying on your own doorstep and
never stepping out may restrict you from knowing the whole world. It’s like a cow can never eat
the freshest grasses until it reaches the best meadow. In the same way, people who only talk with
their close friends may not understand their friends who come from a far distance. Therefore,
what Choy means is that understanding the knowledge from different cultures is the better way
to improve ourselves and form our own way to think. I definitely agree with the quotation that
understanding and traveling across cultures are better to sharpen our own minds and improve our
ability to overcome cultural barriers.
Wayson Choy, a Canadian born Chinese man, agrees in regards to adapting to the culture
of the country you chose to live in. Choy’s family encouraged him to “get ahead, get an English
education, to get a job with good pay and prestige” (1997). By doing this he assimilated into
Canadian culture but found he still did not belong. Choy describes himself as a “Banana”, an
Asian individual who has assimilated into North American culture (1997). He struggled with this
identity because his physical appearance did not match the culture he classified with. He believes
that to belong you need to understand where you come from and respect your heritage. Choy
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said, “I realized I did not belong anywhere unless I could understand my past… I needed roots”
(Choy, 1997). Choy adjusted to his multiculturalism by learning his history and how he gained
the opportunity to live an American lifestyle. Choy notes that his Chinese ancestors and their
Canadian neighbours put aside their differences to fight as one and that lead them to acclimatize
to life together. Therefore, Choy claims he can “accept the paradox of being both Chinese and
not Chinese” (1997). He did adapt and became proud of his multicultural identity.
It is always hard for a foreigner who traveled half world to settle in a new world without
knowing their culture, but knowing their culture is one way to overcome the cultural barriers. I
met Mrs. Janine who learned English with me in Shenzhen China. Then, I knew it was the first
time she had been there. She told me it was so hard to get used to living here. She worked in a
manufacture company with her Swiss partners. Afterwards, I found she didn’t drive to where we
learned English but took a taxi. I was astonished by knowing that she lived in a different city and
every time the taxi cost her more than 400 Yuan (more than 60 dollars). Sometimes, she was
upset because she thought some people around her murmured behind her and called her “Guilao”
a foul word to describe foreigners. When she was speaking, her eyes revealed her sadness. I
gave a lot of suggestions for her such as taking the “express” train or metro instead of taking a
taxi, and ignoring what these people said because they were not pointing at you. A few months
later, she traveled around some places in China and she somehow liked China. She sent me some
great photos with her smiling face. I didn’t know what she had been through, but I knew she
must have overcome the culture barriers in a way. I could never imagine that traveling across the
world would change my mind sharply. Remember the time before I came to America: I had an
opinion like everyone else around me that religions are superficial and ridiculous. In my primary
school, our science teachers had told us there is no God existed in the earth. Then, in my middle
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school, our teacher taught us that many Chinese "Gods" are created by people's minds due to
people being fragile inside.
The author has shown that living a multicultural lifestyle is challenging but it can be
rewarding. Choy’s assimilation to multicultural society living allowed him to enrich his
knowledge with his Chinese heritage. He struggled to find where he belonged but he established
a way to adjust in a multicultural environment. As countries become more diverse, the
acceptance of multiculturalism continues to grow, allowing people to truly be who they are.
Everyone should be proud and embrace who they are or where they came from even if that
includes more than one cultural background. All in all, I agree with Choy that experiencing
culture in a different land gives us many opportunities to know different perspectives of thinking
and renovate our minds. Staying on your own doorstep and never stepping out may become an
everlasting problem that avoids you from understanding the world. This is where the cultural
barriers come from. In an opposite way, as you travel across the world, you can have a better
comprehension on the things you have learned or even completely change your mind because
you are a critical thinker now.
Works Cited
Choy, Wayson. "FACTS & ARGUMENTS I'm a Banana and Proud of it 'Banana' is an
Affectionate Nickname Assigned to the Children and Grandchildren of Canada's Old
Chinatowns, to those who have Assimilated into North American Life." The Globe and
Mail: 0. Jul 18 1997. ProQuest. Web. 8 Feb. 2014

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