At the end of my Bachelor’s degree, after many years of hoping and lots of saving, I finally made it to Japan! It had been a dream of mine for the longest time, thanks to all the stories my mum told me growing up about her time in Japan. There were so many aspects of Japanese culture that I absolutely adored, some aspects that made me stop to consider and others that confused me entirely. After some reflection, here are some of my thoughts about the benefits of experiencing other cultures based on my personal experiences:
- You become increasingly aware of how people can remain similar despite barriers in language, location and tradition. It’s something that I learned about in Psychology – innate reactions, responses or behaviours that seem to share the same meaning for all people, like smiling when you’re happy or frowning when you’re sad. I found it really interesting, and incredibly comforting.
- The people around you and the environment you’re in has a bigger influence on so many aspects of your personality than you consciously realise. I didn’t realise how Australian my accent was until I heard it in the backdrop of other people speaking in a foreign accent (well, foreign to me). It felt extremely strange because I didn’t think that I sounded as Australian as I actually do. And in the same way, I felt that since I was in an environment where I could practise my (very limited) Japanese, I was able to actually pronounce words in a not-so terrible Japanese accent.
- I don’t know whether this is true for everyone, but I felt as though I had an increased sense of tolerance for the tourists that I come across in Australia. I mean, most tourists that I run into are so lovely, but there are definitely others who are just outright rude. But going to another country where everything felt different, I could understand why people would want to capture every little thing, even if it seems insignificant or silly to locals.
I know there are definitely more, but these are the benefits that stood out particularly to me. I cannot wait to be able to experience even more of this world!