Reverse Culture Shock; or Expanded World View?

Honestly, I have to say that the only difference I see between America and Russia currently is that both countries speak different languages.

The more I think about it in-depth, the more I begin to realize that separation is an illusion. Obvious differences are on the surface. Cultural customs and political structures function much differently in Russia than they do in the United States, as a matter of practicality.

However, I have to say that I have met a lot of people here. The only ones I absolutely could not stand the company of for more than a minute and a half were one or two of the American students.

I have also met many people from around the world studying the Russian language at Moscow State University Russian Language Center (MGU). We all have more in common than we originally thought. Despite the language barriers, communication was a recurring circumstance between all of us. Ultimately, and I know this sounds cliche, but my experience abroad has proven what I knew deep down to be true my entire life.

Political structures, borders, countries, and governments, are nonexistent at the end of the day. We as people made it up, “Just like the boogie man! (George Carlin)” Differences are only skin deep. Everyone of the students and people I encountered, whether they were from Russia, America, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, or Mars had all of the same problems and obstacles to overcome that we in America experience. We attach too much stigma to people according to the country printed on their passports. It doesn’t matter! None of it does! To me, it is almost completely illogical (outside of the reasoning of practicality) to attach such labels to people in an increasingly growing global society.

Very rarely do people look at someone who is different and ask the questions: How was your day? Is your family okay? Do you miss home? Are you having trouble in class? Do you feel sick? Wanna get some lunch? More often than not, they are always asked: What’s it like in Ireland? Is the IRA still a big problem there? What do you think of the Queen?

When living with a very diverse group of people for so long, I realized that the separation illusion was as much a myth as Big Foot or Santa Claus.

The main thing I am taking from my study abroad experience is this: no matter what city you are from, where you were born, what country you hold citizenship in, or what your skin color or sexual orientation is; we all experience more of the commonalities than we might think. Additionally, we mostly live in a global village. Separation is an illusion, and perhaps the more that this is realized, the better understanding we have between one another can be achieved in promoting cooperation and curiosity in other cultures across the world.

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Filed under Eastern Europe, Sean in Russia

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