Monday, 8 October 2012

Evaluating Intercultural Behavior

Last Semester, me and my flat mates decided to have a trip to Thailand during the recess week. We were a group of multinationals, who came from different countries namely Spain, US and China. Just two weeks before the recess, we started planning our trip.

Then, I realized that we all had different goals for this trip. Helena, being a Spanish, who had seen a lot of beaches in her life wanted to spend more days visiting Bangkok rather than going to Phuket. Lauren and Kelly who had come half of the globe from America, wished to experience as much Asian staff as possible, thus they preferred to see more famous attractions with a relative high budgets. I was, at that time having a thought of withdrawing from the trip, because I desperately need the recess week to catch up with the study.

I found myself hard to directly express my will to withdraw from the travel group, as I do not want to disappoint them. Instead I was addressing them about my concerns to the midterm exams later after the travel. Actually, all I need was somebody who could ‘see through’ my thought and told me, it is alright to quit. However, Lauren, Kelly and Helena were from a low context culture countries where people did not read deep in between the lines, thus they thought that I simply wanted to have a shorter trip period.

Moreover, Lauren and Kelly thought that we should go to the same city together but visit attractions separately, since all of us got different attraction-to-visit lists. That was actually a typical American way of interpreting and evaluating things where they try to embrace the democracy and the freedom rights as great as possible. On the other hand, Helena did not quite appreciate it, as she felt that we should have fun together.

Just for a simple trip planning, because of the culture differences, we had experienced quite a number of misunderstandings in our communication. In the end, we still did not come up with a plan that satisfied everyone. We got good memories from the trip, but undeniably there was a little mess here or there.

I personally feel that, all these cultural issues we cannot entirely overcome them. Probably, all we need is to keep the differences but look for the similarities. Moreover, try to understand the other side rather than defending on your own.


  1. Hi Zhuang Wei!
    It is really cool that you managed to travel overseas with friends of different nationalities. From your post, I can tell that you are trying to put yourself in their position and compromise with them. It is good that you are taking a step back and looking at the big picture. However, I guess that because there are many people involved and differ in agenda, this problem would have arisen anyway, not only because of cultural but also personal differences. For example, you said that Helena prefers you guys travelling together instead of separate as what Lauren and Kelly suggested. However, you still did a good job trying to compromise with your friends. :)
    Some things that you could edit..
    • " my flat mates AND I.."
    • " before the recess WEEK, we started planning FOR our trip"
    • " who HAS seen a.."
    • " Asian STUFF.."
    • "AT THAT TIME, I was thinking of withdrawing from the trip.."
    • "desperately NEEDED.."
    • "I found IT hard to express my RELUCTANCE DIRECTLY.."
    • "as i DID not want to disappoint them"
    • "since all of us HAD different attractions-to-visit list"
    • "we HAD good memories.."
    • "we need to RESPECT each others' differences.."
    • "defending YOUR OWN"

    1. Tasha, you are always amazing in editing and pointing out grammar or language errors. Thank you for that!Yes, despite for the some unhappiness, overall it was quite fun travelling with people of different nationalities. As we all had different ideas of how to having fun during the trip, and different ideas mixed together made a spark.

  2. Hey Zhuang Wei!

    I think you have brought up something really interesting! You had hoped that someone would understand what your reluctance to travel and gave you the 'okay' signal to withdraw. I feel that this is a really common trait among Asians; we prefer not to voice out our problems directly for fear of hurting others. Instead, we tend to do so in less direct ways, hoping to sound more polite and yet, getting our message across at the same time. Being non-Asians, your friends probably would not have understood what you were trying to say, hence the misunderstandings.

    1. Typo: You had hoped that someone would understand your reluctance to travel and gave you the 'okay' signal to withdraw.

    2. Just recently, I learn something new. Sometimes to address things in a indirect way may hurt people more than a direct way. So we Asians really need to learn how to and when to address things directly.

  3. Hi Zhang Wei !

    It is a nice story! I thin that it is nice than you traveled overseas with people from different cultures. I am sure it was a great enrichment!

    I like the way you describe the different preferences of everyone! I am really surprised by the preference of Lauren and Kelly.

    Finally, I understand that it was difficult for you to explain that it was difficult for you to travel because of the Midterms. Finding a good tradeoff is often difficult. Fortunately, it seems that this trip was a good experience for you!

    Thank you for sharing this story !

    1. Thank you for supportive! Again, I am very encouraged by every single comment you made for my post! Thank you for reading my posts in details, I am really appreciate that!And now I know why you are a nature speaker, because at the first place you are a very good listener!
      A good speaker requires a listening ear.

  4. I like the way you focus your observation on a very close, personal situation: trip planning with fellow NUS students. You clearly and concisely describe the scenario and the goals of each "group," and you present a plausible interpretation of the varying perspectives.

    Once you made the trip, can we assume all went well? Where did you go?

    1. We went to Krabi island and Bangkok. Everything went out smoothly after that, because we are all in a nice-holiday mood, everybody was okay to compromise for each other.