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I never moved schools, not even once. For the past 18 years, I have always lived in a densely packed town called Bandar Lampung – a city on the southern tip of Sumatra Island, Indonesia. I had always been surrounded by familiar faces every single day and I never would have thought that I would be leaving to a land far from home. Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University is my first intercultural experience I have ever had, and to say that I am grateful and impressed would be an understatement.
During my first week in Beppu, I was confronted by cultural differences in some occasions that are rather hard to overcome; considering the fact that my home country, Indonesia, has its own culture that has been shaped around the hundreds of ethnic groups. But as the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do. ” It refers to how crucial it is to adapt to the customs of the people who are in a certain place or situation and not sticking to only one’s home culture. I knew that the old concepts that I brought from home would interfere to adapting to a new circumstance. Thankfully, I gradually got accustomed to the new culture as time passes by, and what I finally realize is that all the hardships that I went through are what made me who I am today.
Nowadays, intercultural communication is currently going on all around the world. We are currently living in a globalized world and we are urged to interact with people from different countries and cultures. The increasingly diversified workforce heighten the need for us, students, to expertise in intercultural communication. There are a lot of ways for us to improve our intercultural competency. For a start, we must be able to look past our own stereotypes, as it is only when individuals leave their differences behind and work together can they achieve success. Next, even with all the research that you did and all the experience you have, you will still make mistakes here and there. Show your willingness to ask when you have something you are not sure of in order to avoid cultural faux pas. Lastly, take a deep breath and enjoy the entire ride.
Remember that this whole learning process is a lifelong lesson and will gradually improve the more time you spend in communicating with people of different cultures. With some work and effort around understanding one another, it is absolutely possible that our intercultural communication increases greatly.
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