Cultural difference between Eastern and Western
One small part of cultural difference between Eastern and Western from the perspective of an Asian girl.
Thanks to the development of information and communication technology, the world has faced a new stage. The world has become “Global village”, which represents the simplification of the whole world into one village through the use of electronic media. ‘Global village is also a term to express the constituting relationship between economics and other social sciences throughout the world.’ (from Wikipedia)
Thanks to this change of the world, I can be here and study in Denmark, on the European continent, even though I was born and raised in Korea, located in Northeast Asia.
I felt a hundred of differences between the culture of the West and the East. Among them, there is the most distinct cultural difference I felt, about respecting personal differences and individual diversity.
The spirit of Asian cultures is based on Confucian and Buddhist cultures. It emphasizes “Us”, “Together”, “Community spirit”, and not: “Me”, “Individual”, “Personal”. We learn that considering the other people and the community first is the virtue of our life. The main idea is that the same is good rather than the differences. From the culture, we usually try to consider and care for the other people instead of “I”. So the group together works on making people feel a sense of fellowship and connectedness.
However, when we put too much emphasis on “us”, it puts less respect on individual opinions and preferences. If people look different or behave different in the group, this is considered as not good. And people from Asia are very conscious about the eyes of other people. How will their eyes see me? And also, the other people are usually talking about each other’s appearance and how each and everyone is looking.
On the other hand, Western culture is opposite from Eastern. one of the most important elements in defining Western culture is diversity and respecting personal differences. In this culture, people think that personal choice and preference are the key for building the community. They focus on each person, the focus point is individual freedom instead of the community or the group. When Western people see the other people’s different kinds of appearances or styles, they just accept their ways. And people do not care about how the eyes of other people will see them. They just do or express what they want.
It is good to freely express your opinion or personal preference, but sometimes it can be beyond consideration of the others. It is not easy to find the spirit of community when we excessively pursue individual freedom.
Sometime, people consider the one thing to be better than the other. Western Culture better then Eastern Culture or vice versa. I think that everything has pros and cons. I don’t mean to say that one side is right or wrong. What we need is to accept its differences and try to understand and respect each other.
Since arriving and living here in Europe, I have felt a difference between the two cultures and I have been surprised almost every day. So I started to think about where these differences come from and why and how? It is because now I have seen, listened to, and felt the things that I learned only from books and knew only in my head. This article is a part of the process of finding out.
Actually, this is a very small part of the culture shock I felt. Let’s say it is one of the hundred. I think that writing this reflection is a good start for me, it may enable me to discover more cultural differences that I feel in the future.
By Jiwon Lee from Korea