Thursday, 12 July 2012

Culture SHOCK!

Missing my family and friends was the first thing I had to embrace when I moved down here. The second BIG change I had to learn to embrace right away would be socializing with all the different cultures.  I am constantly surrounded by people from ALL over the world… every day! I am learning so much about others cultures and ways of life. It’s amazing to see the drastic differences between each culture and then noticing the similarities as well.

Last night I was emailing my little cousin, Meghan. She was asking me how it was to live with people from all over the world. I told her that I loved it! I also told her how it was so neat to see how we each do things and say things so differently from one another. I told her a story about my first week I was here, my Norwegian roommate, Marthe and I were sitting eating breakfast when she took her jam and put it into her cereal with milk in it. That was the very first time I was something like that. Jam… in cereal?? What…. I thought it went on toast and was a side snack to a bowl of cereal in the morning… not mixed together.

Being down here I have already learned so much. I realized I had to be very comfortable with people grabbing my face and kissing me on both cheeks. I am friends with some of the Mexicans… and let me tell you… that is how they greet you… all the time! It’s very welcoming though. It just shows how happy and friendly their culture really is!

A few nights ago, I was talking to a German friend, he told me that his biggest cultural shock was to do with North Americans greeting one another in public. He said back in Germany you would never say hello or make conversation with a random stranger. I told him that where I am from in Canada, Manitoba, my home province’s slogan is “Friendly Manitoba”. I told him that when I walk down the streets I am almost always smiling at strangers and usually saying hello. I also told him that at stop walks and bus shelters I usually end up having a small conversation with a complete stranger. He thought it was bizarre! But said he’d love to see it. He said the Germans who came down to work for Disney really had to get used to engaging with strangers.

The few Italians I have met here are also very sweet people. They seem so caring and polite; almost old fashion like. Almost every time I have talked to them they always call me “dear”.

HOWEVER please remember these are only my few experiences with these cultures! Even within a countries culture, each person has their own way of thinking, way of life, and feelings. Like I learned in my Cross Cultural class back at Red River College, every person has something called an ethnoculture. This is a culture that no one else has but each individual themselves. For example, the other Canadian cast members in the Canadian pavilion have a different culture and way of life then me.

Being here in Disney World with cast members from all over the world really opens my eyes and allows me to learn about each culture. Being here without my family and close friends even further allows me to embrace and learn from these cultures. My family and friends are usually the ones who think and do things very similar to myself, now… I am starting to see a whole lot of different aspects in life. I am loving every single bit of it! 

Enjoy and have a magical day! 

Eileen McDonald