Immersed In A Culture


crane and papers of the same size used to fold it

Origami crane and papers of the same size used to fold it (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Daily Prompt: “If you could pause real life and spend some time living with a family anywhere in the world, where would you go?”

When I first read this question I immediately leapt to an answer that was made from a view of tourism. Then I realised that the important part of this question is the phrase “with a family”. This phrase implies that I will be immersed in more than the usual tourist life, that I will become part of the real local culture.

This then pulls me in two different directions.

There is one part of me, the part that fell in love with Italy and the Italian people, that is drawn to the idea of living for six months with a family on the outskirts of Florence. To live in the Tuscany of Bertolucci’s ‘Stealing Beauty’ with the joys of Florentine art and architecture a short drive away would be a delight. To learn of the Italian language and cooking from within. Every time I have been to Italy I have found a country and a people that appeals to me enormously.

However there is a deal of cultural similarity between Australia and Italy and large parts of Italian sensibility and culture are known to me thanks to living and eating in close proximity to many Italians in Sydney’s Inner West.

So there is a part of me that looks at the opportunity in the question and thinks it would be a marvellous opportunity to immerse myself in a culture totally different to my own. To live in it long enough to really understand it.

So which would I choose? I think I’d go to either Japan or China.

I find Japan an appealing idea as it is culturally totally different to Australia and there is so much of its art, particularly it’s papercraft, that I like.

I spent a little over a year working for a company that was owned and staffed by Japanese immigrants and found the cultural differences huge. It was an incredibly hard year because of those differences and it would have been much easier if I had known the language and understood the different way the staff thought.

Then there is the art. Japanese art seems to celebrate the small and the finely performed. There is a finely detailed and made nature to it that seems apposite to European art. I would hope that immersing myself in the culture would help me to better understand it and perhaps even improve my own art.

China, too, appeals for similar reasons. With China it is not just that from this distance it seems a totally different culture but that China has a growing importance to Australia and the world. To live there as part of that culture seems like a good move. With China it would be less about art and more about discovering how they think and feel about their own politics and culture within the wider world. I can imagine coming back to Sydney and making good use of the knowledge I would gain.

Italy, Japan, China. Three possible choices each appealing to a different part of my own nature. I could even see them as Italy representing the past, Japan the present and China the future.

Japan. I think Japan would be the right choice. My heart says Italy and my head says China but I think the best for my own personal growth would be Japan. Since time has stopped back here in Sydney I’d like it to be for quite a long time, perhaps two years. Enough to really understand the language and culture, enough time for me to take classes in origami and kirigami, enough time to truly understand the people I would be living with.

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8 thoughts on “Immersed In A Culture

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