Serving Arizona State University Online Since 1995  Current Issue: Thursday, March 10, 2005





Admyering the View: New language, weird food

Take the time out to experience a new culture

 by Amanda L. Myers  published on Thursday, March 10, 2005



It's ten o'clock in Alicante, Spain, and I'm eating a dinner of fruit and cheese.

My host mother, Maria, pours me lemon beer and asks me how my day was.

Besides the fact that it took a half-hour to find my class at the Universidad de Alicante, I got on the wrong bus on the way back and lost $30 U.S. dollars in pesetas because I didn't zip my hidden belt wallet. Needless to say, I'd had better days.

I nibble on an apple, confused about Maria's choice of dinner and time.

Maria is talking about how her day went, but I am not really listening. When she asks me a question, I don't understand her. She repeats it again and again, but I have no idea what she is saying despite my four years of studying Spanish.

Before the night is over, I nearly break down out of sheer frustration.

But the next day was easier. And the day after that a little bit more easy, and so on until by the end of the trip, I was rambling away in Spanish just as much as Maria, dancing and singing along to a lemon beer commercial, and making homemade paella for lunch -- the largest meal of the day in Spain as I had come to learn.

The point is that learning about a different culture is not easy, especially when one is immersed in that culture. It takes time, patience, understanding and an open mind.

More so than any other citizens of the world, Americans don't realize that knowing about other people and cultures in the world is vital for understanding and sensitivity.

It's not right that many of us choose to make assumptions about other cultures rather than taking the time out to actually understand them, when learning about them can be an entertaining and enriching experience.

Take the Matsuri Japanese Festival in downtown Phoenix for instance. Performers teach audience members about the history and culture of Japan while entertaining them -- all for free.

Learn more about the festival and Japanese culture in "Eastern neighbors" on page 5. You'll find that the Japanese culture is more than samurais and kimonos.

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