Sunday, February 10, 2008

Cut off from culture

Language isn’t the only barrier when you’re visiting another country. Even when they speak English, the shared experience that a people has of local news, television shows, ads, childhood toys and favourite foods can make you feel terribly excluded. Imagine, for example, coming to America and trying to have a conversation with someone when you’ve never heard of Lucky Charms, Saturday Night Live, ‘Where’s the beef?’ or Mouse Trap?

You’ve probably never noticed just how often you refer to popular culture, especially in conversations with people you don’t know that well. While there’s no way to wipe every Monty Python sketch or Simpsons episode from your mind, you can experiment with cutting yourself off from culture. You’ll find it doesn’t take long to feel the effects.

Here’s what you do: for two weeks, don’t watch TV, read the paper or look at the internet. That’s it. OK, now try and have a conversation at the water cooler, with your car pool, at playgroup or waiting for class. Good luck!

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