Mellifluous Monday: Get Cultured!
Well, I’m back for my second ‘Mellifluous Monday’ post and this time I thought, in light of my recent cultural experience, that I would talk a bit about different ways of life.
Now, if you didn’t already know, I have just arrived back in my native Sydney after a well spent week in New Caledonia – which is part of the French Republic – learning French and immersing myself in the vastly different Noumean society.
If you don’t know much about New Caledonia, you can find out some quick information on the first account of my trip, here.
However, rather than telling you what I did like I have been doing over at Tea Mouse, I’m going to tell you my opinions on how life is so amazingly different everywhere you go, and how you may not even have realised it.
OK, so I’m not going to pretend that I’m a seasoned traveler; I’ve only ever been to two countries (New Zealand and New Caledonia) besides Australia; but when visiting the latter, something dawned on me: wherever you go, life is experienced just a little bit differently than what you are used to.
When I started out my adventures in New Caledonia, I had begun by thinking that it would pretty much feel like a warmer, less populated and poorer version of Sydney.
In that assumption, I could not have been more wrong.
What I hadn’t factored into my stereotyped view of NC, was that the people, the language, the expressions and body language, heck, even the atmosphere were entirely different to that of Sydney.
I’m really not sure if I’m explaining this well, but what I intended on telling you, is that when you visit a country so entirely different to your own, you realise something that probably wasn’t all that clear before. Truly, by visiting NC, a feeling dawned on me that not everyone experienced life in the same way as me.
For instance, if you’ve ever been to Sydney, you may have noticed that people, in general, will keep to themselves. You don’t get spontaneous ‘hellos’ on the street, and it is sporadic indeed to experience total strangers willing to have a chat with you in a random place. In NC, however, things are very different. I often found myself walking down the street and waving or being on the receiving end of a friendly ‘bonjour’ from a complete stranger. People would drive down the street and honk at you – not in the crude manner I was accustomed to in Sydney, but out of greeting. If you were a tourist, it didn’t matter. They would openly engage in conversation with you even if it was through a mixture of broken English muddled in with even more broken French.
I was also stunned at how crazy their drivers are. OK, so not a major factor in my cultural exchange, but it was amazing to see how driving styles differ over so little distance. They drive on the other side of the road (not so much of a big deal), but they are literally speed demons! They see a zebra crossing, and they speed up. Unlike Sydney, where if you see a person on said zebra crossing you slow down immediately, cars seem to take precedence in NC and they will hardly take the time to slow down for pedestrians.
There are, of course, many more things I could tell you about how these two cultures differ; such as how on a bush walk in protected forest the guide was happy to chug away on his cigarette, or how the people are so open that within minutes of meeting them they will tell you that you are the epitome of beauty, despite the language barrier. But what I really want to tell you, though it is so hard to express unless you have experienced it yourself, is that nobody lives their life the exact same way as anyone else. Even over such a small distance, the entire atmosphere of the culture is vastly differing to my own.
It really makes you appreciate how individual and special your own culture is. This trip has also inspired me to travel. I now have plans to visit other cultures throughout my life, and the list of places I wish to visit is rapidly growing. America (at the end of this year, hazahh!), Paris and Italy, Britain, Japan and China, Fiji, Germany, India and possibly Africa one day.
Of course, I need to save up quite a stash of cash first. 🙂
So please, I implore you, if ever you are afforded the chance to step out of your comfort zone and visit another culture, don’t let homesickness or a language barrier confine your senses. Get out there and see all that our world has to offer.
You only get one chance.