Monday, March 2, 2009

Dealing With Cultural Differences

Lately, I have been trying to examine the feelings I have about Korean culture now that I have been here a good 6 months and have a better understanding of how things work. There are certain things about living and working here that make me uneasy. These feelings can contribute to culture shock. I love psychology, so naturally, I am very interested in this subject!

In any case, I took this information from a website I came across explaining why one would suffer from "Culture Shock." After reading this information, I wanted to shout a resounding "YES!!!!!!!" This site totally nailed it in terms of why one might feel so strange in a different place.

What are the causes of culture shock?

• Being cut off from cultural signals and known patterns of communication, especially the subtle, indirect ways of expressing feelings.
• Living or working over an extended period of time in a situation that is ambiguous.
• Having personal values (which were previously considered absolutes) brought into question.
• Being continually put into positions in which you are expected to function with maximum skill and speed, but where the rules have not been adequately explained.

The following chart explains the difference between American culture and Korean culture.


  • Take time commitments seriously
  • Time commitments are an objective to achieve, if possible
  • Adhere religiously to plans
  • Change plans often and easily
  • Emphasize promptness
  • Base promptness on the relationship
  • Short-term relationships
  • LIfetime relationships
  • Do one thing at a time
  • Do many things at once
  • Respect for private property
  • Seldom borrow or lend
  • Reciprocal obligations
  • Borrow and lend often and easily
  • Low context (one says what one means)
  • High context (words are not the full picture)

North America, UK, Germany, Switzerland & Scandinavia France, Italy, Latin America, Spain, North Africa, China, Japan, Korea

Quite interesting, right?