To be fair, it is easy if you do happen to live in a little expat bubble. I call our home ‘The American Sector’, because it is just that – a little bubble of American culture and the English language amid an entire nation auf Deutsch!
Geert Hofstede defines culture as ” the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one category of people from another”, these categories can include one or more of the following: a nation, a region, ethnic group, gender group, generational group, social class, profession or occupational group, a type of business, work or organization group, or family. (Hofstede, 1994)
Culture is further classified into four different realms or elements: symbols, heroes, rituals and values. “Symbols are words, objects and gestures which derive their meaning from convention. […] Heroes are real or imaginary people, dead or alive, who serve as models for behaviour within a culture. […]Rituals are collective activities that are technically superfluous (unnecessary, redundant, unneeded) but, within a particular culture, social essential. […] Values represent the deepest level of a culture. They are broad feelings, often unconscious and not open to discussion, about what is good and what is bad, clean or dirty, beautiful or ugly, rational or irrational, normal or abnormal…These feelings are present in the majority of the members of the culture, or at least in those persons who occupy pivotal positions.” (Hofstede, 1994)
As Expats, we then have a choice to either adopt or ignore that which is not our first culture. To explore and adapt or disregard the second culture. If we as individuals, families, or other collective units determine that the various elements of culture are worthy of exploration and experience then, we, either as the singular or collective unit can create a third culture amalgamating our original, first culture with that second culture in which we live.
I don’t know what I was thinking when I first decided that my family would do this. Perhaps I was simply thinking that we would save money and clean out the cupboards. Well, it turned out to be so much more than that!
First, I became a bit ill after the new year. This meant that for about a week I did not want to eat much or cook for that matter. Then, our projector fan died leaving us with no family television time. This latter point is not all bad. I think I’ve mentioned before that our home is like the ‘American Sector’ from Checkpoint Charlie.
I am an expat…