When working or traveling abroad, we should take into consideration that every country has its own cultural elements, differences and diversity. We should stand from an objective view to look at all these newly found things and get rid of any ethnocentric behavior we may have, that our country is superior to others that are not similar to ours. Every country has its own beauty, which is reflected through its culture and mentality.
Of course, we may all have our challenging moments when abroad. For instance, three years ago when I was traveling to Canada, I had to get off on an in-between stop in Frankfurt. As I do not speak any German, except for very basic words, I said Good morning in German to the airport official and then I switched to English, in order to ask for the restrooms. As soon as he heard me speak English, he made a sweeping movement with his hand as to brush me away and sent me to somebody else, speaking to me abruptly in German at the same time. I felt very frustrated at the moment and rather upset. Just then I remembered what my Greek-German aunt had told me: that a lot of German people refuse to speak in another language apart from their own. (Well, the specific official could have been a little more polite – but that was a matter of personality and not a generalization about all German people!) Even though I felt rather perplexed and uncomfortable at the time of the incident, later on contemplating on it I thought that Germans feel very proud of their culture, which is a positive thing. However, it would be good on everybody’s behalf, regardless of where they are, to be a bit more flexible with people who have no knowledge of their language.
To tell the truth, I mostly felt disappointed with myself for not having learned some more useful phrases beforehand which might have been of some assistance to me then and shown respect to the people of the country I was in. This is something I did before visiting a German-speaking part of Switzerland (specifically Zürich) for the first time and the locals appreciated it deeply. Now that I live in Switzerland, I am trying to learn German (and Swiss German as well!). I consider it as a sign of respect to the people who have welcomed me and additionally it helps give me an understanding of the people and the culture.
In fact, this would be a good preparation in order for someone to adjust more easily in a new country when going there to work and live. Considering learning the language of the country you are about to spend a period of time in is a great decision which also shows your respect to the people and their culture. The people will appreciate it very much as well. Another good step would be to learn about the cuisine of the country and what alternatives one can eat daily, in case the food is too spicy or too heavy in contrast with one’s own cuisine. Reading up on the history of the country we are about to visit is great in order to understand the people’s origins and mentality, as well as communicating with people who have lived there or visited the specific country to share experiences.
Concerning our own origin and our countries, it is great to know the history of our country, speak the language properly and know about the culture. All this is good, as long as we do not become ethnocentric. It is negative towards other people and their cultures to think that our own countries are superior to others, for the reason that first of all, there is no such thing as the best country in the world and the richest culture. Each country is uniquely beautiful, with its language and culture. People with ethnocentric behaviors have difficulty relating to other cultures, as they are so negative towards learning about them. In addition, people with an ethnocentric behavior create negative impressions to others and the country they come from as well. It is good to know who we are and where we come from, but when we come into contact with other cultures it is nice to have an open mind and tolerance to diversity.