Cultural Adaptation Challenges

Cultural adaptation -  Thai traditional dance– A new look on cultural adaptation –

Many people believe that, when you live in a foreign country, you will never be fully accepted by the locals. Especially in countries with complex and closed cultures, like for example Japan or China. They think that it will always be you and them, no matter how hard you try to blend in.

Having lived in Asia for long periods, I also believed that. But then I read a comment from someone who considered this a weak excuse. He stated that people give up too quick. I started thinking about that opinion, and after a while, the thought slipped into my mind that it could be true. Did I complain too much in the past instead of taking more efforts to really become one of the locals?

Fresh impulses 

A lovely moment. Visit a new country and suddenly there is that feeling of excitement. You experience sounds, tastes, views and smells, which never before made a connection with your brain. You are constantly getting tickled by new sensations. However, the cultural sensations that you experience can quickly become numb if you decide to stay for a longer period. You might experience a stagnation in your cultural adaptation process.

Stagnation

Now that I am back in Thailand for a longer period, I start to notice a decrease in my interest level for its culture. I feel that my interest level reached a certain point and then slowly started to decrease, because the whole experience was not new anymore. Therefore, the longer I am here, the harder it becomes to dive into the Thai culture with 100% motivation.

Once I learned how to get around in Thailand, I basically stopped learning and showing interest. I do not often visit cultural sights anymore. These days I am working at my laptop most of the time. A downgrade for my offline social life. The number of Thai people I met also declined. As well as my excitement to meet them. To keep things short, it was time for a change.

A cultural adaptation boost

I was looking for a deeper cultural experience, as I did not want to have the feeling that I could be anywhere in the world. So I decided to start a cultural adaptation challenge. People say that learning the local language is the best way to bond with a foreign culture. Language is indeed important, but there are other interesting methods as well. So I decided to raise the bar a little higher.

What I want is a 100% involvement with the culture of my guest country. I try to accomplish this challenge by only eating Thai food, watching only Thai movies, reading only Thai books, listening only to Thai music etc. By doing this I will also quickly increase my knowledge of the Thai language, so it is a win win situation. Use this fun method if you find it hard to learn a language.

An amazing journey full of new discoveries

The result of my effort is an amazing journey full of new cultural discoveries. I am now having much deeper cultural experiences because of these discoveries. It is a whole new journey that requires no need for relocation. I like that because I will be stuck in Bangkok for a while. Now I can still travel this country but in a different way. I am making a fascinating cultural journey.

Side note

This challenge is a lifestyle experiment that I created to get out of my comfort zone. However, as it involves everything that I am doing on a daily basis, I find it important that it stays a fun challenge. I am not going to eat food that I do not like or listen to music that I hate, just because it needs to be Thai.

To tackle this problem, I choose Thai equivalents for the things that I already like. For example I like dance music, but it never crossed my mind to start looking for Thai dance music. The same thing counts for Thai books, movies etc. These Thai equivalents make it easier to deal with the difficult challenge of a 100% cultural adaptation. Otherwise, I will quickly return to my old habits again.

Thai statue in Grand Palace

Are you up for the challenge?

Are you interested in (Thai) culture related subjects or do you also want to tackle this challenge? Make sure to read all the upcoming posts about my cultural experiences and discoveries. I will share new discoveries about books, music, movies etc. on my blog, in my newsletter or on any of my social media profiles. So make sure you also sign up to my mailing list, or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

How do you usually try to adapt to a new culture? What methods do you use to make the integration process as smooth as possible? Do you believe you can fully adapt to every new culture? Share your views on this subject, and let me know if you got inspired by my culture challenge.

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