Accepting culture

"The person who finds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginning; the person to whom every soil is a native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom every soil is as a foreign land."
– Hugo of Victor, a 12th century monk


Respond to this quote by journaling: which of these three types of persons do you see yourself as being at this moment in time?

What is "culture"?
Two definitions:
  • "Culture is a way of thinking, feeling, believing. It is the group's knowledge stored up for future use." – Clyde Kluckhohn
  • "Culture is a design for living. It is a plan according to which society adapts itself to its physical, social, and ideational environment." – Louis Luzbetak

Characteristics of culture: (refer to book Foreign to Familiar)
  • Culture is learned; it is not biologically determined or restricted to race.
  • Culture is a shared system, and therefore it is held in common by a society (shared history, worldview, values, norms, understandings, social cues, beliefs, language, etc.).
  • Culture is an integrated whole, all the parts of which function in such a way as to affect each other and contribute to the totality.

Christianity and culture:
  • Each culture has parts that are God-honoring and point towards Him as well as parts that have been distorted or "evil".
  • The diversity of cultures somehow pleases God (Genesis 1 1:1-9). At the Tower of Babel, God scatters the people. Yet His goal is also reconciliation of the nations (Revelations).
  • As a Christian, we need to be sensitive to support the things in any given culture that are true to who God is and what He desires, and at the same time be counter-cultural to those things in any given culture that do not honor Him.

Cultural adjustment

When we grow up in one culture and then spend some length of time in another culture, we go through cultural adjustment. Compare it to being blue, moving to a yellow culture and ending up turning green, striped, polka-dotted, tie-dyed, etc..

Culture shock

Culture shock is the surprise, even fatigue, at the difference in new encounters, the compilation of stress over a period of time.


Explore expectations: Conduct a persona/ self-assessment of your expectations, both for your professional and persona/ life abroad. Write about these expectations in a journal, considering these questions: What elements of life abroad are you eager to experience? What aspects of the transition worry you? What challenges do you expect to face? What do you expect will be the most difficult to handle (language barrier, making friends, etc.)? What assumptions do you have about your ability to adjust? Several months into your assignment, what do you expect life will be like for you and your family in your new home? What have you experienced this weekend regarding other cultures? How did you experience it? Enjoyed, felt uncomfortable, uncertain, oblivious, etc.