cultural differences

Essay by angelave February 2014

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Cultural differences between Uzbekistan and USA

Today in our country a great attention is paid for learning English. And in each school of our republic pupils are beginning studying English from 1 grade. Why exactly English? Because English is so widely spoken, so it is called as a "world language". When we learn English, we should study English culture at the same time. Most people think that knowing a great number of words and grammar of the language is enough for communicating with the native English speaker. But if you do not know your partner's behavior and attitude to this or that topic your dialogue will be unsuccessful. For example American people do not like talking about their private life or family, while in Uzbekistan it is impolite not to ask about family. It is one cultural difference between these two cultures. And now we are going to compare some cultural issues of these two countries, of Uzbekistan and USA.

Firstly, what is culture itself? It has many different meanings so we cannot give only one definition. One can say that culture is a communication; culture is a 'face' of any nation; others - culture is a good literature, art, music, food and clothes; culture is beliefs, values, religion, customs and behavior of a particular society. All of them are right. Culture includes everything given. If a learner of the language can interact appropriately with the representative of other culture, he is interculturally competent. Intercultural competence is the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately (Lustig and Koester 1999 cited in Moran 2001). Many students want to study abroad, many people - to travel. If they have lack of intercultural competence there will be a lot of misunderstandings. Here we would like to begin with the greetings of American and Uzbek people. What kind of differences are here? And what misunderstandings we can face to with? In our country when people greet, it is natural to ask about work, husband or wife, children and etc. People often shake hands and can exchange with kissing if this person is close friend or relative. But do not do such things when you go abroad. If you meet English man he will say you just "Hello!" or "Hi!" and "How are you?" and expects from you just short answers like " good thanks and you?". And Americans when greet each other they just shake hands or can say just hello without shaking and they do not embrace and kiss each other. If you embrace them and ask many questions it will be strange for them. While talking to them you should not come very closer and touch them. Because American people have private space that they value it very much. They can easily show or say about their displeasure because Americans are direct. But it does not mean that they are very rude and impolite people, it is just their nature. Being direct is not bad quality, but you should first think, then speak. Because of your uprightness you can offend someone.

However Uzbeks are not direct. Conversations are kind of a wandering path, and there are a lot of underlying meanings you have to pick up on. Most Uzbek's tend to be close talkers and closer than arms' length of personal space is common. It is usual if one woman touches another woman's arm or sits very close, while talking. And for men to have their arms around another man's shoulder while hanging. Often in our streets we can see friends holding their hands, but in America it will be a shock.

Another important cultural issue is gender issue. You can hear a lot of different things about the role of woman and man in society, family and etc. They say "Women cannot work, they should be housewives. Women must not drink and smoke. Women cannot wear pants, they wear only paranjas. There are no political scientists in Uzbekistan. And so on". But all these are stereotypes. Each person, including female, has a right to get a continuous education. After studying anyone can work. After marriage women do not have to sit at home. If their husbands allow them they can work not only as teachers or nurses but also as politicians and doctors. Drinking and smoking of women depends on their tastes, religion, health, etiquette and preferences. They can drink wines in parties with their husbands. Women of our country do not wear paranjas. And if anyone comes to Uzbekistan he or she can meet few religious women with covered head. Mostly our women wear jeans, shirts, t-shirts and even short skirts. And our people respect women very much. Men give their seats on the buses, listen women's advice, and help them.

In America people value equality and work opportunities for women are varied for women are varied. Many American families are dual income with both the man and woman working. Most American women want to work and they rare do housework as our women do. American women are closer to career, while our women firstly think about their family and children. Because families are deeply respected in our country. All our happiness and sadness we are used to share with our family and relatives. Almost all holidays we celebrate in a big family and relative circle. But American's attitude to the family is different from ours. For them it is typical to have a nuclear family, consisting of two parents and 2-3 children. Each family wants to form their own household far from their relatives. From the one hand it is good to be independent, to have your own hearth. But if your relatives and parents are with you, you can always hope for their help and support. They never let you down and stay alone.

These issues are just a droplet in "a big culture sea". We can include here clothes, language, food, traditions and many other issues. In order to avoid embarrassing situations in communicating with the people of other countries or being in other countries, our teachers should try to raise students' cultural awareness. Not only teachers and students should do it, but other people also should know, improve their knowledge about other cultures.