Alas, it is now December, and my time in this class on intercultural communication has come to an end. Although I am considering maintaining this blog because I have put a lot of work into it, and it makes for a positive web presence, the original project is over. Here are some final thoughts on this class as a whole.
When I first started this class, I was not quite sure what to expect. I had taken cultural anthropology and sociology in the past and believed I had a pretty good idea of how to communicate across cultures. The book, Intercultural Communication in the Global Workplace, appeared very business oriented, so I assumed that there would be a heavy focus on making money in a global market, but I couldn’t infer much else. Basically, I wasn’t sure how it would apply to me since I am not planning on becoming a business person and only needed this class to satisfy a requirement for my major.
I was pleasantly surprised by the content of the class and the fact that the professor was not only interested in showing how to conduct business abroad, but took care to emphasize ways to build intercultural relationships and understand different worldviews, skills that can be applied in any field dealing with other cultures. The exercises in applications, the illustrations given in the classroom, and the blog that allowed us to focus broad ideas within the context of one particular culture really helped build an understanding of how different cultures communicate and how to adjust my communication accordingly. Through these, this class quickly became my favorite of the semester.
I think the most useful lesson I will take away from this class is the knowledge of what to do to prepare for a journey abroad. Before I would have done some minimum research on safety tips, how to get around, etc.; but I would have likely assumed that there would be little preparation needed to understand the culture, and I would have to adjust through trial and error.
This, however, is not the case. I now know that there are ways to prepare ahead of time for immersion into a new culture and that doing so can greatly ease the transition. For example, understanding that Guatemalans use dress as a symbol of status before leaving the country would prevent a lot of embarrassment if I were to ever visit the country. Basically, knowing how to avoid cross cultural blunders ahead of time can clearly prove advantageous.
In a world that is becoming increasingly global, this class demonstrated that there are still many different worldviews at play. Learning about the different social structures, communication styles, and value systems worldwide really helps emphasize the importance of patience and keeping an open mind when working internationally and of never assuming that there is only one effective way to get your message across.