culture and adjustment

the map——>”Culture is a map to the heart. When you read a map, you need to start with where you are.” I like this thought. Anyone who wants to connect with the people around them and to become a meaningful part of society must take on this “map-reader” identity. Always learning. Always traveling. Always adjusting. Always growing character that is both cultural and trans-cultural (Utazni). When we read a map, we start with our current location. At first, we understand a new culture only through the lens of our own. It would be interesting to compare/contrast American and Hungarian commercials.

6-12 months——>We’ve always heard that significant cultural adjustment begins after living within that culture for 6-12 months. I think this is true. During the last two months, Laura and I have been feeling the cultural differences. More than anything, I think we’re coming to terms with the urban culture of Budapest. Today, we had a great conversation with Kristina and Péter (from our neighborhood) about urban culture, frustration, and grace. Grace. This is the big thing on our minds these days. Grace for our kids, for each other, and for the man in the store who fussed at our kids. It is easy to show grace to someone when they show grace to you. Showing grace in a situation of “ungrace” is a little tougher. I think this is a huge part of cultural adaptation.

building walls or bridges——>Living in another country will expose cultural “differences” which will inevitably create some degree of internal “dissonance” leading you to make positive or negative “choices.” What really matters here, I think, are the coices you make. I heard it said once that “everything we do is either building a wall or building a bridge.” The dissonance of cross-cultural living can naturally produce feelings of frustration, embarassment, loneliness, helplessness, or misunderstanding. But with a heart of humility, trust, and flexibility, and with a lifestyle of observing, listening, and inquiring a person can start building bridges.

rule #1——>My friend Tom is always talking about rule #1, “no expectations.” When I expect something, I set myself up for disappointment and frustration. I have many hopes and dreams, all of which guide my life and my actions, but expectations I have released into the abyss of grace. By grace I can accept and embrace disappointment, misunderstanding, embarassment, lonliness, and injustice. Grace enables me to release expectations, and releasing expectations prepares me to live by grace.