Cross-cultural misunderstanding

The SBS video comedian thinks it is rude to ask where are you from.

Asking where are you from is a way of making small talk with a stranger trying to make friends.

In other cultures they might ask you how old you are, where you went to school or who you work for. Japanese have business cards that they give each other as soon as they meet each other to explain where they are from. I am Told that in Eastern Europe they ask you much you earn which those from Anglo-Saxon cultures would find most garish.

Australians are unable to pick each other’s regional accents unlike the UK where there are 30. Dublin has distinctive accents across the north and the south of the city.

As soon as you say your name, if it is not familiar, people start asking where that name came from as a way of making conversation.

A common greeting in Asia is where have you been? When a Malaysian student was asking us Australians that question in Japan as a greeting we all thought he was a nosy Parker and actively avoided him because he kept interrogating us about where we have been. The greeting is as meaningless as asking whether you are having a nice day.

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Cultural Conflict

“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clifton Fadiman

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Picture credit:BlueStream Marketing

What is a cross-cultural misunderstanding?

Cross-cultural misunderstanding happens when people from different cultures communicate or interact with one another. People from one culture act according to their norms and values, but the other does not understand the message the way it was conveyed and might interpret differently due to the cultural differences. Cultural misunderstanding also occurs when a word, gestures or social context have different meanings in different cultures.

In this case, I will focus on Thai culture in particular. I do believe that people travelling to other countries having a basic understanding of what is acceptable and what is frowned upon can be a big advantage for them. I am not saying or expecting that people have to…

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