Co-Cultures

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Application Paper #1: Co-Cultures
The objective of this assignment was to experience another culture different from our own. I had the privilege of observing the French culture. My friend Elisa and her family are from Nantes, France which is west of Paris. They moved to the United States not too long ago and currently live in Irvine, California. I had the privilege of visiting Elisa and her family to have dinner and to see how the French culture is like. I chose this culture because the French is a high-context culture whereas the United States is a low-context culture. I thought that this would be difficult for me because in our low-context culture we depend on the direct language for communication while individuals in a high-context culture depend on “contextual cues” for communication. I noticed this plenty of times throughout the night as well when I met Elisa’s parents for the first time they were very welcoming. Elisa’s mother had a very high vocal tone and a very strong French accent. It sounded like her mother was very thrilled to have me over. Elisa’s father and I shook hands with a light grip which is social-polite touch. He did not have any artifacts nor did Elisa’s mother. However, when I observed the way Elisa greeted her parents it was different. She kissed her mother and father once on the right cheek. It was different because when I see individuals do that here in the United States, they kiss both cheeks. I removed my shoes before entering the house to show respect and addressed them by Mr. and Mrs. Pogu as a sign of respect. However, the correct way to address French individuals is by calling them Monsieur and Madame. I noticed that calling her parents by their first name is only for close friends and family. I thought that this was interesting because French individuals and families will tell you if you can call them by their first name.

While dinner was being prepared, Elisa gave me a tour of her house. In France, it is rude to ask if you can look around the house without permission from the owner of the house. The nonverbal communication was strong in terms of environment. Elisa’s house was very organized and the wall colors were very vivid. It shows that Elisa’s family does value the true French culture with plenty of decorations and paintings that displayed notable buildings such as the Louvre.

When dinner was ready, Elisa received a phone call from her friend that she was going to be late. As a result, we had to wait because in the French culture arriving ten minutes late is disrespectful. The French tend to have a monochronic culture since they value time and do not like wasting it. I consider myself a monochronic person as well so I did not mind waiting. During the downtime, we were just sitting at the dinner table chatting. I observed that the French culture use territoriality. Territoriality is when you claim an area so Monsieur Pogu assigned me a seat so that next time I came back to visit I would know where to visit. When Elisa’s friend arrived, she shook hands with Monsieur and Madame Pogu and then sat in a chair across from me. She knew that it was her assigned seat while Monsieur Pogu smiled at her. Before dinner was served, Madame Pogu gave a toast and welcomed me to their dinner and then said “Bon Appetit” which means good eating in English. After Madame Pogu said that, we began to eat. While I was eating, I noticed that Elisa and her parents had their hands on the table during the whole time. Their hands were not on their lap and their elbows were off the table. Sadly, mimicry affected me and I was doing the same when I did not realize it. Their posture was extraordinary as well because I noticed that their legs were crossed while eating. They were sitting up straight also and it looked like they were stiff but were not. The space between us was at an intimate level since we were all close together. I found it uncomfortable because I am used to having dinner at a more personal zone...
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