Cultural Facts with Amanda

To showcase my love for diversity

June 13, 2013 – Greece

Hello again! Today we’re going to talk about Greece…a beautiful place:

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Friendly reminder: all my information is coming from the book Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands by Terri Morrison and Wayne Conaway.

Let’s get started!

The official language of Greece is Greek, with the second most common language being Romanian. The type of Greek that spoken in Greece today is Demotic Greek.

Ninety-eight percent of Greeks are members of the Greek Orthodox Church, however there is a freedom of religion in Greece. There is a small portion of the country who are Muslims, Roman Catholics, and Jews. 

It doesn’t rain often in Greece so fresh water is very valuable. There are often wildfires in the dry woods and fields. There are also a lot of earthquakes in Greece. Because of this, some Greeks believe that humans are not in control of their fate. 

There are serious environmental issues in Greece. There is a lot of air pollution in Athens and deforestation throughout the country. Ancient Greece was filled with forests and wooded hills. Trees have been cut down for lumber, charcoal, and fuel. What hasn’t been cut down has been destroyed by forest fires and goats. The Greeks are trying to rebuild their forests but it’s hard to do so with low amounts of rainfall.

The Greeks are heavy smokers. Although it is illegal to smoke in public places, they often ignore those laws and do it anyway. Greece is a large tobacco producer. 

Greeks are open to discuss mostly any topics but it’s hard for them to change their opinions about some things. They tend to process information from a subjective perspective rather than an objective one. Interpersonal relationships are very important to them which is how they make their decisions rather than based on universal laws.

The Greeks made individual decisions but when making those decisions, they consider the feelings of those who depend on them such as family. With friendship comes obligations. Friendships must be established before negotiations can take place. A Greek’s role in the social structure is what gives them security. The Greeks have a strong work ethic but a laid-back approach to living. So there may an image of a lot of activity but slow progress. 

The Greeks usually do business over coffee. Lunch is the main meal of the day, lasting two hours: noon to 2pm. The elderly get served first. Dinner is a smaller meal, eaten around 8 or 9pm. When dining in a Greek home, they may insist that you will get offered seconds or thirds. Eating more is a compliment to your host. It is not a good idea to bring up political topics in conversation. 

It may seems like Greeks have a lot of nervous energy because they constantly tap their foot or fidget. It doesn’t mean they are uninterested or impatient with you. Greeks indicate “no” with an upward head nod but that is not so common with the younger generation. Anger is expressed with a smile. After giving or receiving compliments, Greeks may let out a puff of breath to ward off the “evil eye.” 

Greeks are very generous. If you compliment something enthusiastically enough, it may be given to you. If you are invited to a Greek home, compliment their children and give them a small gift. Give flowers or a desert to the host.

Hope you enjoyed this information about Greece! 

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May 11, 2013 – Japan

I decided to write this post about Japan since Japan is a popular country to talk about. I wanted to make up for the fact that I haven’t posted in this blog in six months. It’s been so hectic! But I’ve graduated now and my life has slowed down a little bit. So, here goes. 

My source is Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands by Terri Morrison and Wayne Conaway. BEST BOOK EVER. I highly recommend it if you ever plan to do business overseas. There’s too much information for me to compile it into one blog post without making the post extremely so I got some highlights.

The first thing to know about doing business in Japan is that the Japanese people don’t care for public displays of emotion. If you plan to do business with the Japanese, you’ll need to work on your poker face. If you let your true emotions show during a business meeting, Japanese people will think that you lack self control. The next thing to know is that the younger members of your business team should remain quiet during the business meetings. Japanese people show a great respect for elders and will honor their opinion more than younger business executives. It’s nothing personal, just a cultural thing. When working with Japanese people, they will ask you a lot of questions about what you do and what your job title is. They just want to know how they should speak to you.

The Japanese communicate in a high context manner. They don’t feel the need to verbally explain everything. Instead they use nonverbal cues. It is the direct opposite of how Americans communicate. 

Japanese people believe that they are genetically unique. Foreign medicines are often not allowed in Japan if there is no scientific evidence that says they are safe for Japanese people. The Japanese are very protective of their culture and very skeptical when it comes to foreigners who come to work and visit.

Japanese people are more subjective than objective. Individuals are more likely to change their own opinion to fit the group’s opinion. This form of communication also causes them to make decisions based on the group, rather than facts. An outsider must be accepted into the group before they can help make decisions. The Japanese people work hard every single day to avoid embarrassment, which makes them extremely likely to conform. They value their elders. There are distinct gender roles, where males are more dominant. However, with Japanese youth, there is a desire for gender equality. 

If someone bows to greet you, study the way they are bowing carefully. If you are about to bow to greet someone equal to you, bow with the same depth they did. The bow indicates the relationship between you two. 

Finally, you should know that Japanese people never say no. If they say something along the lines of “I’ll consider it” or “I’ll think about it” that probably means no. Politeness is a top priority for Japanese people so the phrase “I’m sorry” is extremely common. It’s important while you’re over there to be sure to show the most respect to older members of the group you may be dealing with. Don’t single people out and compliment them if you’re doing business with the Japanese. They’re more concerned with the group effort. Japanese people will not be upfront about what they expect from you. 

I hope you enjoyed this post! Until next time, happy reading! 

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Southern United States

First, let me start off by telling you where I’m from. I am from a small town in Florida; a town full of middle-class Southerners, where everyone knows everyone so if you die, you die famous. My hometown doesn’t have a mall or a movie theater, but it has tons of gas stations that are all owned by same jerk, a super Walmart in which you can go to and see everyone you know in one shopping trip, and plenty of fast food places that you’ll get sick of really quick. Surprisingly enough, despite the lack of cultural diversity, there are four Chinese restaurants. I remember in high school, there were relatively an equal amount of Caucasian and African-American students and very few Asians. I was friends with the Asians and I remember one guy calling himself the “token Asian” because he was the only Asian in his class of 70 people.

Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to get out and experience the world. If you’ve read my biography and my first post, you would have learned that I love diversity. So my hometown just wasn’t it for me. I left to go to college in Pensacola. Now, Pensacola isn’t as multicultural as maybe, Chicago is. But there is a pretty good mix of people here. I’ve met people with all kinds of backgrounds and ethnicities, which has been awesome for me.

So, after those experiences, going home is awkward. First of all, there is nowhere near by for me to get sushi. There are possibilities of hearing racist jokes, as sad as that makes me to say that. There are way less Asians and less educated people, since educated people don’t usually stay there, because there really isn’t much for them in my hometown.

The thing is, I was raised in the South and some of the stereotypes are true. For instance, my manners rock. I always say “ma’am” and “sir” and when I’m in public with my friends talking freely with them and swearing, as soon as I see a child, my swearing stops. I am not appalled at the idea of people hunting or  having deer heads on their living room walls, since I’ve seen it so many times. I don’t believe in gun control, because I know so many people who have guns for protection purposes (i.e., my stepdad. Guns are all over my house). I know what hot weather is like, really hot, humid weather. It’s awful, by the way. I know that when people say, “bless your heart”, it’s not meant to be nice. I am also extremely loyal to my family, despite how different I turned out from their core beliefs and views. I am the black sheep of my family and always have been. I’ve had so many arguments with them about religion, politics, things no one even wants to talk about but I’ve been taught family first, no matter what because that’s what they’ve shown me all these years. Even though they don’t understand me. Bless them. And lastly, I know that Christianity is SUCH an important aspect of the South. If you’re not a Christian, people look at you funny. I know this by experience, unfortunately.

People from bigger cities tend to think Southerners are stupid. Not always true. They may not have went to college, but most of them are common sense smart. They know the true meaning of hard, physically intense work, which is a great thing to know. They love with all of their heart and will stand by you until the end. On a Black Friday, they are very helpful, cooperative, and you can expect friendly conversation while you’re waiting in line for an hour.

I’m not trying to stereotype Southerners, obviously not all Southerners are like this (i.e., me). I hold some of those qualities just because I can’t escape them even if I wanted to, but I have the desire to move from the South and experience everything this world has to offer. However, I will always love the South. It’s where I’m from. It’s a part of me and everything I am.

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Introductions

Hello, everyone! My name is Amanda McNally. I am a PR major at the University of West Florida. I won’t say too much about myself in this post because that’s what the about me section is for.

I started this blog because of a class I am taking called Communication Management. We had a speaker today that stressed the importance of blogging. I’ve tried blogging in the past and it always went horribly wrong, so for the time being I’m keeping this blog away from certain people to keep it from getting tainted. The speaker also mentioned that blogs should focus on one specific thing. And I want mine to focus on cultural facts, whether within the United States (the country where I live) or in different parts of Florida (the state where I live) or from other parts of the world. I want to cover information from ethnic cultures to sub-cultures such as middle class people or the LGTBQ community.

All my life, I have lived for diversity. I have always promoted it, talked about it and found new ways to learn about it. I know a lot about the subject, but I will use additional resources to help me with the information covered in this blog and I will credit those sources. I want cultural nerds like me to see this blog as useful and fun and even if you’re not a cultural nerd, I want you to find this blog interesting anyway. We’ll see how it goes. I’m very excited about this new endeavor! Happy learning, everyone.

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