Difference Between Vietnamese Culture and American Culture

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Coming to America is personally a turning point in my life. I, a Vietnamese international student who had always dreamt of studying in America, decided to gather all my courage to step on the air plane to America on my own and started my promisingly eventful journey in this totally foreign land. Months before my departure, I already imagined how my life would be in America, and I was confident about my adaptability as I had spent four years living abroad in Singapore but anxious about the much more immense diversity in America at the same time. As more than three weeks have past since I first arrived in America, I gradually learn that the real experience is way different from what I have imagined and expected. I would rather call it a “positively challenging experience” as I am exposed to a completely foreign culture and challenged to adapt myself to it but the learning process of this new culture has greatly excited me. At the beginning, I inevitably experienced a certain amount of cultural shock, given the vast difference between Vietnamese culture and American culture. Cultural shock is a state of anxiety that results from cross-cultural misunderstanding. One incident that gave rise to my cultural shock happened when people I hardly know acted too friendly towards me according to Vietnamese culture’s standard by hugging me without asking for my permission or at least signalling their offer of hugs by body language. At first, I was a little irritated because it appeared to me as an intrusion of personal space and that the person is a little too physical. However, as I started to observe and practice cultural relativism which is the concept of trying to understand the meaning of another’s culture under the insider’s view, not from my own view , I soon learnt that it is merely the way Americans commonly greet others and show their friendliness. As I am well-aware of the importance of cultural relativity in a foreign place, the cultural shock has not been bad...
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