Cultural differences

Russian woman thoughts about national character

By Gaiane Khatchatrian

A horse having seen a camel said:
"What an awkward horse-bastard!"
And camel thought: "Are you a horse?
You are just a camel - but underdeveloped one!"

First of all, I would like to note that each nation is unique and inimitable phenomenon ever marked in nature, which represents itself unmeasured value for the concrete nation as well as for the whole mankind.

Some people think, nation to be a number of people combined with the same language, music, dances, customs and traditions peculiar to it, on the one hand that is right, no doubt about it, on the other hand the more meaningful and appealing feature that national culture includes, in my opinion, is the character of the nation, its psychological side, its inner world. I am inclined to think so, because, if we look at those people who left for foreign countries, we will see, that people suffer from cultural differences - they try not to neglect the local regulations, study the required language, but rarely alter their conduct, as the most difficult is to acquire the strange national character.

National character belongs to any society distinguished historically and geographically and it manifests itself through inducement, norms of behaviour, measures, perceptions, the way of thinking, attitude to the surroundings. And, I believe this is the real essence of nation. It is something that differs one nation from the other. Moreover, the fact accounts for why, for example, the Latin Americans and the Northern Americans can hardly make head or tail. The appearing misunderstanding between nations causes embarrassment and discomfort. This is only one of the numerous examples, all of them prove the indisputable truth. Coming across abroad with something unusual, something extraordinary, something people did not get accustomed to, they, I have no idea why, misinterpret it. May be on account of their instinctive inclination to judge everything by their own standard, they do so and do not hesitate to spread their unpleasant mind. Unfortunately, but this justifies only our not very much pure nature. People make haste with their conclusions and sometimes even call representatives of another culture ill bred, unsociable, uncivilised etc. As a rule both sides consider each other uncommunicative, pushy just due to the lack of awareness. And that is the matter of national character. The problem is the most sensitive when dealing with international relations. Like misunderstanding between generations, between social classes, differences between tastes, views, trends in art, there is also such a phenomenon like a cultural gap.

From above mentioned it follows that language competence is far not enough to communicate easily with foreigners and to feel at home abroad. I think, it might be a good idea to take into account, that, if we want to understand the representatives of strange countries, and with the contacts growing between nations we will have to do it, so we should first abandon our habit to measure other's corn by our own bushel. As there is a world of difference between what we think about people and what they really are. Besides a national character being a specific feature belonging to the nation as a whole, nevertheless, gives little information concerning a single person in fact.

Then, trying to preserve our own culture, no need to exclude getting acquaintances with the others. So it is a good idea to get rid of the conventions and prejudices, and start enriching our scope making out the system of conceptions, measures and norms of other cultures which will ensure sound communication and cooperation, and that, in its turn, will promote the development of further contacts between countries all over the world.

January, 2003, Russia, Kaliningrad

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