In the process of socialization, human beings adopt a certain culture; culture is defined as commonly experienced attributes and traits that can be seen in a homogenous group of people mostly living within the same locality. Socialization tools are responsible for the passing of culture from one generation to another; culture is not static, undergoes various adjustments and changes. Personal values, attributes, ideologies, beliefs, and religion are elements of culture. The United States of America is a metropolitan country with an influx of people from different parts of the world; the different nationalities have different experiences in life and thus their culture differs from the American style. The fact that the American lives in the same country do not guarantee that they have a common culture; however some things can be attributed more to them than countries. This paper analysis cultural differences and culture shock experienced by three of my friend who hails from Kenya, Hong Kong, and Saudi Arabia; they are in the United States for their college studies.
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Joel the Kenyan
Kenya is an African state with a population of slightly over 40 million; the country has forty-two tribes with the Kikuyu as the dominant tribe. Joel is a Kikuyu, according to the culture of the tribe, men are the breadwinners of the family; this is to imply that whether a woman is working or not, the man should provide for the family. In the family set-up, another interesting element is how men are expected to express their love to their spouses; according to Joel, men show their love by battling their wives. Although the country’s constitution is against domestic violence, the culture supports that thus the reported case are few and only those to the extreme. The notion that men are superior to women supports Hofstede’s notion of power distance, the culture is used to create social stratification in Kenyan families; men are highly valued. The belief and treatment of women are different in the United States, domestic violence is a crime against humanity and can result in imprisonment. In the United States, there is no gender egalitarianism.
According to the Kenyan culture, after marriage and payment of dowry, a wife becomes one property of the husband; she is not supposed to visit her parents without the approval of the husband. In the case of husband death, when the property of the deceased is being divided among the relatives, the wife is taken as one of the properties and is inherited by a younger man in the family; however, this practice only happens to people of the age below forty-five. After wife inheritance, children born thereafter are children of the deceased and establish themselves as so.
Although the Kenyan belief in God, he believes that God lives in the topmost mountain of a country, when he is in a certain country, he has to ensure that at one particular point he knows the direction of the highest mountain, when praying he must face that direction. When conducting a prayer he is expected to bow down and not look upright at the mountain just in case he sees the face of God whom they call “Ngai”, which Joel explains means the giver of life and distributor of wealth (Sobania, 2003).
Xian the Chinese from Hong Kong
Hong Kong is situated on China’s south coast; it is one of the two SARs (Special Administrative Region) of the larger China, the region is has a fast growing economy. The country is known for its deep harbors and is one of the world’s densely populated countries. According to the population census of 2009, the population of the administrative region stands at 7.4 million with 95% being of Chinese origin and the remaining 5% being other nationalities and tribes. The total surface area of the country stands at 1104km sq or 4265 sq meters. Hong Kong’s birth rate stands 11.7 per 1,000. According to Xian, there is a major difference between the Chinese and Americans in how they handle their parents, according to the Chinese culture, it is the role of children to take care of the old. In whichever country one is, the parents should be taken care of by the children. At old age, parents are not supposed to be taken in old homes under the care of the homes but children are supposed to include them in their families as part of them. The American style advocates for elderly home care.
If a person is deviant to the culture, before he is prosecuted in a court of law, culture demands that elders of a certain village should sit and try to handle the matter in so-called “Kangaroo” courts. The Chinese value In-group collectivism; in case a member of the family is not at the dining table at the time of the meal, but he or she is expected to arrive soon, then other members should wait for him or her. In case he is not likely to come fast, then he is served food in his absence as a show of collectivism. The practice of the culture is that male is the dominant gender and women are supposed to be submissive and should take orders from men. If women disrespect their husbands, it is seen as an omen to the family and a cleansing ceremony needs to be conducted by elders. The ceremony will involve the slaughtering of a goat or a sheep has to please the gods. Children are not supposed to shake hands with adults but they are expected to bow and give adults a chance to touch their heads as a sign of blessing and respect (Kam, 2010).
Muhammad the Saudi Arabian
Saudi Arabia is a Middle East country that has undergone a rapid economic growth rate in the recent past. It is the largest Arab country in the world. It has highly modern developed infrastructures: these are both transport and those of communication.
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One of the most dominant cultural differences seen between most American and Saudi Arabian people is religion; Saudi Arabia has the world’s largest number of Muslims and has deep roots and practice the religion to shape their destiny. Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad was a prophet of God and should be respected in all aspects. Before marriage, dating couples are not expected to express their love; they are not supposed to go into the streets showing that they love each other. What should happen is that parents from the man’s side should seek permission from parents of the woman’s side to have their daughter hand in marriage. After an acceptance token of dowry has been paid negotiation starts. At this point in the presence of either side’s family, the dating couple can meet and discuss different issues. The practice is different from the American style where after a man or woman establishes his or her date, they openly show it in the public. It s them who approach the parents and seek to start marriage negotiations; in case of divorce, American courts are used but in Saudi Arabia, the process must follow Muslim teachings that call for an elder determination of a case. After a divorce, children are the properties of the woman in America while in Saudi Arabian; men should take the role of taking care of the children.
Saudi Arabian has a culture of innovativeness and invention; it is greatly regarded as red as a virtue for one to devise his way of operating and doing things. At the age of eighteen especially for men, culture dictates that a man should innovate his or her way of doing things. Although innovativeness is regarded as a virtue in American culture, it is not as valued as it is in Saudi Arabian. Respect for the old is also highly valued and disregard of elderly advice is a vice punishable in the community (Long, 2005).
Despite the free movement of labor, capital, and international trade, the difference in culture can be seen in metropolitan states like the United States. Values, ideologies, perceptions, and beliefs that people hold are greatly influenced by their country of origin. In the social aspects of life, a difference can be noted among Kenyans, Malaysians, Chinese, and Americans.
Kam, L. (2010). Hong Kong Culture: Word and Image. Aberdeen: Hong Kong University Press.
Long, D. (2005). Culture and customs of Saudi Arabia. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group.
Sobania, N. (2003).Culture and customs of Kenya. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group.