Culture shock: the unique and the not-so-unique

BY THE GENTRY MAN

I’ve been fortunate enough to be blessed with two things:

1. Being raised in Australia – one of, if not, the most multicultural countries in the world

2. Having an extremely open mind – which even in Australia, is harder to come across than I’d like it to be

These two things combined have exposed me to a plethora of different cultures, customs and have allowed me to understand that we’re all very alike – more alike than one might think. I’ve experienced eastern Turkish cuisine, northern Chinese culture, south Sudanese customs and that’s just in my local suburb. I’ve even spent a lot of time experiencing first hand the ever-fascinating customs of white people.

Whatever culture you may have been raised in, or wherever you’re from, there might be a few things which you may consider to be unique or exceptional in some way. Most of things probably are, but when you start getting to exposed to a variety of cultures on a regular basis – not just on a Lonely Planet-inspired, soul-searching holiday because all of your friends are posting pretty pictures – you will notice a small handful of those things aren’t so unique.

Food.

“Oh man, us Greeks know how to throw the best and biggest feast ever”

“If you come to our house, you will eat so much Chinese food you won’t need to eat for a week”

“I swear, a Samoan banquet will have more food than you will ever see”

Banquet

At its foundation, the provision of food is an essential human need – duh. However, the notion of a feast and providing an extravagant amount of food can be traced back to early human civilization. I’m sure you’ve heard of some ancient cultures saying that the ideal bride for a young man should be ‘big’ because it implied that her family was wealthy enough to feed her so much food.

When Sultans in the Ottoman empire hosted guests, they would provide a feast of epic proportions, even though the amount of food was well beyond the ability of the attendants to consume. Why? To show they can. To boat strength, power and wealth.

Depending on how lucky you are, you could see a wide variety of unique dishes. Spit-roasted whole goats, beautiful fried snakes, barbecued alligators are just some of the things you might be fortunate enough to taste. I’ve tried all of those dishes and they’re all absolutely delicious.

Regardless of how interesting the dishes are, one thing will always be there – the feast. Every culture has some excuse or occasion to throw a huge feast – because, why not? Chinese New Year, Greek Easter, Kwanzaa, weddings and seasonal festivals are just some of them.

Everybody loves to eat. Your culture doesn’t throw a bigger feast than any others. We are a world united by our love for food.

Crazy parents/family.

“You don’t understand man, I have Indian parents”

“You don’t understand, it’s a Lebanese thing”

“You don’t understand, we’re Hmong”

Parents

I, along with a lot of other people, do understand actually.

There are those times when your parents, or any of your family for that matter, will annoy you for one reason or another. They might push you to be more successful, they might tell you to eat more because you’re too skinny, or they might say you should only talk with girls who are from the same country as you. Starting to sound familiar now?

Situations like this are less about nationality and more about family. We’ve all got a family. We have all got various characters present in our families and they interact with each other in their own ways. There are generational differences which will always be a factor as well.

Wherever you’re from, we’ve all got some memorable family members. Just because you’re from a certain part of the world doesn’t mean your family is ‘weirder’ than anybody else’s.

Alcohol

“I’m Irish, I know how to drink”

“I’m Russian, I can handle Vodka”

“I’m 1/8th Polish I can handle Vodka”

Vodka

This isn’t very global because not every region in the world has a culture of alcohol. However being in Australia, I feel an obligation to include this.

First of all, these discussions only seem to occur when drinking games begin or towards the end of the night. Secondly, on behalf of everybody else around: we get it.

Historically, European cultures have always included alcohol as part of their daily lives. Ale with their meals, mead with their meat and wine with their bread. When you travel further east, the drinks change slightly but they’re still alcoholic. Of course I’m referring to that stereotypical image of grizzly Eastern European men sitting around sipping straight Vodka with ushankas and Ak-47s. Go even further east and then you get into rice-wine territory. 黄酒 (huáng jiǔ) Chinese rice wine, 酒 (shu) Sake, and 소주 (Hangul) soju are the most iconic in the asian region, however Bintang and Tiger Beer are more well known in some pockets of Bogan-Australia.

If you usually consider alcohol as a social lubricant, try and use it as a bridge to connect with other cultures who also love alcohol. This way, those of you who are socially inept can remain that way, while still being able to experience new cultures.

The Gentry Man is a personal stylist who just proved that he can write about something other than fashion. However he isn’t sure how to feel about having more than twice as many tweets as BULLSHiT’s own Tahlia Pritchard. And his Mum and Dad said that he wouldn’t amount to anything!

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2 thoughts on “Culture shock: the unique and the not-so-unique

  1. Pingback: Things people say about their culture which are unique… but aren’t actually unique at all. | The Gentry Man

  2. Travel more. Learn more. Become wiser. Never forget that posts in i ternet contribute to world culture.. Yours is for sure no help

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