Cultural differences as a challenge


by Lika Vatsindze

When you think of culture and how you can adapt to the culture of a foreign country, it is easy to formulate nice theories and talk a lot about them. But when it becomes reality, when you move to another country and need to adapt, you realize that everything gets mixed up and the challenges are quite different in practice than in theory.

People’s characters are different, attitudes, life styles, even the bricks for building houses are different. The discovery of these differences make you feel insecure, and soon you will want to give up and return back to your own, safe world.

Decisive moment

Exactly this moment is decisive for you – you need to fight against your self. This is the most difficult of all struggles in life. In this moment you do not have the right to give up, because each step forward gives you the opportunity to broaden your horizon and perspectives and develop personal skills to get closer to your goals.

That is why it is necessary to keep your motivation and not give up. Try to do things that you maybe do not like, or do not want, or you are scared to do. When you achieve your goals and analyse, you will see that there is nothing impossible. You can be proud of yourself and you will continue to walk to higher levels in life.

Human relationships

I believe that one of the most valuable things in our life is human relationships and family. For me, my family is the most important thing, because the family gives me strength and motivation to do what I love to do. I can be successful in the area, in which I feel comfortable.

When I decided to get involved in European Voluntary Service abroad, my family members supported me. At first everything seemed easy, every day I would talk with them and the months I was going to spend abroad would pass soon. Yet when I arrived at my destination, I realized that only talking online could not fill the emptiness, which caused me to feel lonely.

Different attitudes

Maybe you laugh when you read this, but we are different and our attitudes are often not the same and partly they originate in our background. It was the first for me to live alone and abroad. It was very difficult for me to deal with home sickness, language barriers and differences between people.

People in my country are warm and attentive, always ready to help and support you, also when you are a foreigner. Maybe I just was not lucky, because I met cold people in the first days after my arrival.

Do not give up

I wanted to buy tickets to different city and somehow I managed this, despite the language barrier. In the city I used GPS to move around and see different places, and then suddenly the phone stopped. I decided to get back to the railway station and charge the phone, but there was only one electric plug-in and it was busy.

I went to the cashier to ask for a few minutes of power supply, but despite of my request they refused. They were cold and shouted at me, because I did not know the language. I was so disappointed and thought I should go back to my country. I started to search job vacancies and I found a couple of places where I could send my CV.

However, I did not send it immediately, because I thought about the iceberg and my goals.


Talking with students at University of Economics – Varna (c) Lecti 2017

Imagine that you are on a ship and it is going towards an iceberg. What exactly do you feel? How much of the iceberg is above water and how much of it is below water? I think this idea demonstrates vividly what can happen to us, if we look only at the visible and ignore or underestimate the invisible part.

Remember the Titanic? Just as the captain of a ship has to be aware of the underwater part of an iceberg to avoid disaster, we as visitors to other countries have to be aware of the hidden part of culture and adapt to it in order to minimise frustrations and misunderstandings.

Going back

I decided to become a volunteer abroad, because it was good chance for me to work with an international team and improve my working experience, skills and my English.

In the case that I would give up, I would have wasted my time and not achieved my goals. I decided that if I wanted to be better, I should adapt to the new culture.

Soon I changed myself, I started talking with my team, I started planning events and trainings, attending to the activities and writing some articles in English. Suddenly I saw how I grew, day after day, and I think I am getting closer to my goal. That is why it is important always to fight for our goals.

Lika Vatsindze from Georgia was a European Voluntary Service volunteer at Lecti / IBI in Varna, Bulgaria, during 2017.

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