Fall 2014, Issue II: Adapting
Whenever life presents us with a challenge, we are forced to adapt and learn from that experience. Some of the most difficult challenges of adaptation occur during intercultural encounters. This issue of Global Impressions explores the idea of “adapting” in numerous situations, from the physical, to the interpersonal, to defining what does or does not make a culture “authentic.” We invite you to join us in exploring all sorts of adaptation, and hope some of you will consider submitting for our next issue, which will feature international photos. See our submission page for details.
The answer was something the rest of the world overlooked, something as simple as just spending a bit more time with people around us. In Danish culture, this concept of togetherness and closeness is so ingrained in the people’s mentality and everyday life that it has a name — Hygge.
When I returned to Smith, after a year of half-hearted and lackadaisical academic participation, everything from my attendance to my grammar suffered. And my heart, too, yearning for that other life I had merely glimpsed, suffered from what the Brazilians call saudades; an untranslatable word for an implacable longing.
There’s potential for mental freedom when you travel, particularly for people who decide to abandon their native culture and rub up against the limitations of unacknowledged social conventions on a daily basis.
I’d heard stories from other students who’d studied abroad in the Arab world and I spent the flight bracing myself, awaiting the biggest culture shock of my life. By May, I was still waiting.
What changes during each move is not the skeleton from which I am composed, the species to which I belong, or the axis on which my world rotates. Instead, what living abroad – although I could not tell you where abroad is anymore – has taught me is to embrace.
Every day I had to walk past street after street of Primorskaya’s dreary apartment buildings. In the first few weeks of my stay, this never failed to set off in my head a constant refrain of “This is ugly, this is ugly, this is ugly.”
The north-and-south travel of some 600 supertankers each day make this the busiest shipping lane in the world. The currents, winds, weather, frigid water, wave height, seasickness, throat/tongue/body swelling and burning due to salt water, jellyfish, sharks and hypothermia all test your will power. The Channel has the reputation of giving you the early rounds, knowing that you’ll tire later in the match, when you are most vulnerable.
As a tourist, I couldn’t be expected to know or follow the rules for behavior, couldn’t be expected to know that my private balcony would be considered a public space where I would be open for harassment.
Terri Tierney Clark
Americans are comparatively provincial when it comes to understanding other cultures. We don’t have the constant exposure to a variety of cultures experienced by our European counterparts. To sort your way through the many dilemmas presented by an assignment abroad or even working with foreign customers and colleagues, consider the issues below.
On March 31, 1934, Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001), Smith College Class of 1928, made headlines as the first female recipient of the National Geographic Society’s Hubbard Gold Medal, “honor[ing] outstanding explorations or discoveries.”