The “Why?” of Culture

4:00pm Saturday

I hop on my bike and pedal down the hill. Need a few snacks for tonight.
I arrive in town, coming to an abrupt halt before the grocery store. It’s closed. Hmm.. clappy bikeride

well there’s that mini mart on the corner – that has to be open – it’s a mini mart. Nope, all of it closed at 2:00pm. My head started steaming. I don’t even live in a small town. Six years later and I’m still not used to it. In such moments, my frustration rises and I first think “I work all week, I’m not allowed to make any noise on Sunday and I really like sleeping in on Saturday morning. But no, everything closes by 2:00, which means I need to get up early and do all the shopping, noise making and anything else that needs to be done” Lame! Then, my conscience kicks in: Now, Brittany, you have to slow down and do what you tell everyone else to do. Before getting upset, stop and think, ask “why?”

Most things are for a reason…

Side note: While writing this post I am watching the movie “The Butler” and I think this vividly portrays moments when we don’t sit down and say, “well it all has a reason”. Such atrocities as slavery and other acts of revoking human rights do NOT fall in the category “well, it has a reason”. Sure, some- one/ group attempt(ed) to justify with a reason.
A Reason by no means equals automatic acceptance.

When it comes to living abroad, it doesn’t mean accepting everything about your local culture and not questioning any of it. It’s rather about catching ourselves when wesuitcases lay our expectations from our home culture upon the new culture. These moments can cause dissonance. In a good way, this helps us to learn what view points from our home culture are important to us and can create an interesting dialogue with friends and colleagues. It provides us with the chance to learn new things from other’s perspectives. Hey, maybe we even keep both. Being an avid traveler, one picture I like when it comes to culture and our expectations is that of a backpack, or rather now in my line of work, a rolling suitcase.

From early on, we learn from our parents, guardians, siblings, our surroundings in general. We pack all these experiences and take them with us. This helps us perceive the world and guides us on how we interact with others. As we grow up, meet new people have new experiences, we look at the things in our suitcase decide what we want to keep, exchange for something else or if to add something new. Some things we may not even realize are buried down at the very bottom and come out when we least expect it. And hey, as mom always said “don’t forget to pack your underwear” – some things are essential basics. However, at some point we even swap out the Superman or Barbie underwear for a new alternative. Also, depending on the trip, we take different things along and leave others at home.


So, being aware that we each have a backpack or suitcase with us, helps us see that rolling around with one too, unpacking what they see appropriate for the occasion. And also that we all have that embarrassing item that slips out from time to time… 🙂

For me, on this Saturday, well  and many Saturdays before, I have to remember to pack along planning a bit more. I don’t plan on unpacking my spontaneity, but have learned through hard lessons like today, shopping on a whim just doesn’t work like it used to. I also miss being able to do things like hang a picture on a Sunday, but since living in an apartment building myself, have learned to appreciate the peace and tend to go for long walks on Sunday, continuing to discover new corners of this country.

What are some of the hard lessons you are still adjusting to where you live?


3 Responses

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  • Mindy Hardwick on January 26, 2016, 05:57:39

    So much wisdom in this of how we bring along all our old expectations and do not live in the now but in the past or how we expect something to be.

    Reply to Mindy
    • Brittany on January 31, 2016, 15:08:01

      it’s so true! Even after living in Germany for seven years, I catch myself often still getting frustrated at little things and why they are not like at home, then have to step back and check myself.

      Reply to Brittany