Different nations have different cultures. Cultural practices make an individual to be identified with a certain group. However, cultural practices can result to racial segregation, ethnicity and all other forms of discriminations.
This is because different cultures have different norms. So as to develop this topic, two interviewees, one from Sweden and the other from Australia were interviewed with an aim of exploring the different cultural practices and identifying how the two cultures compared. The following is a presentation of the findings from the interviews and a discussion on how the two cultures compared.
The interviewee was born in Stockholm and had a good command of English, Swedish and Saami languages, since he was a businessman in the Northern regions of Sweden. He had a wife, four children and was a member of Lutheran church though his family rarely attended church service.
Having been born and brought up in Sweden, he was well acquainted with egalitarianism culture. As a result he was humble and found boasting totally intolerable. During our conversation, he preferred to listen as I talked. In fact, he only spoke when answering me. Moreover, he spoke gently and calmly. In his business, he worked hard, though not too hard as he was not out to compete with any one. His last child was below eight years old, so he did not have to work much until the time when the child would go to school.
The interviewee recognized the role that culture plays in ensuring that there was harmony in the country. He explained that Sweden’s egalitarian culture builds on past circumstances that support a sense of cohesion. He also liked the fact that activities in Sweden are usually carried out in moderation, nothing is done in excess. Excess, ostentation and boasting are disregarded in Sweden and persons struggle towards the hub way (Pred, 2000).
The interviewee explained that having been born in Sweden, where Lutheran is the main church, he followed the teachings of the Lutheran church. He further explained that the Lutheran church had state back up and cultural dominion, although it faced rivalry from rebel churches. It is important to note that the Church of Sweden came out as a state church at the time of the protestant reformation (Hannerz, 1996).
On further interrogation, the interviewee explained that he faced lots of pressure to change his religion from the immigrants, mostly Muslims, but he had no plans to reconsider that. The interviewee explained that though he rarely attended church services, unless on special occasions.
Only five percent of the population frequently attended Sunday fellowship in Lutheran church (Stromberg, 1986). He also said that he was a Christian in his own way, thus he had less interest in following doctrines. He believed that earnest spiritual sentiments should be experienced when one is sole in nature.
The interviewee agreed to having been much influenced by his church ideals, Lutheran, about social ethics and open attitude towards technical modernity (Stromberg, 1986). He further explained that current reforms have caused the Church of Sweden to be a more autonomous religious organization. As a result the Church personnel often merged pastoral labors with public engagement, mostly in support of immigrants and global aid. The interviewee confirmed his participatory in these public engagements severally.
Three of his four children were baptized in the church and two were afterwards confirmed, as required by the church. His marriage was conducted by the church. Regarding death beliefs, the interviewee said that he was influenced by his church to belief that autopsy is important. He believed that death implicated losing one’s individual subsistence while becoming component of something superior. He said that English was the language of instruction that was used in schools where his children were.
Culture impacts how one interacts with others. The interviewee mentioned several ways in which the Swedish culture has impacted his life. He said that he highly regards family life. He ensures that he adequately care for his wife and children. Whenever he has visitors, he prepares coffee as most Swedes love coffee.
If he is invited to someone’s home, he takes with him a bouquet of flowers, as it is required by the culture. When dealing with foreigners, he tries to understand them and build trust in them as Sweden is a high trust society. In his business endeavors, he puts on high quality suits and silk ties (Hall, 1998). He avoids wearing showy clothes and expensive jewelry.
Since business people in Sweden are normally somewhat reserved he ensures that all his dealings are official and serious unless it is deemed suitable by the particular client or consultant to let proceedings to become more relaxed. Whenever he wants to plan for a meeting, he informs the relevant persons two weeks earlier. He also ensures that he does not schedule his meetings during Christmas time and other months when Swedes are usually on holiday. He ensures that he observes punctuality in meetings.
He explained that in Sweden, lateness is interpreted very negatively and if it happens, it mirrors very badly on a person. When he plans for meetings, he too has to clearly stipulate the agendas for the meeting. In his presentations, he ensures that he enormously focuses on detail and prepares presentations with precise, supporting and appropriate data. This is because Swedes like detailed information. Swedes seldom make decisions during first meetings and as such, he never expects much from first meetings.
Whenever he communicates, he ensures that he is sure of his words. When selling his goods, he always tries to moderate the use of stress or superlatives as it is not common for Swedes to be adamant during a dialogue. Failure to hold to this could result to his business being regarded as insincere. When negotiating, he ensures that he remains calm, restricted and does not show any sentiments as this could be taken negatively. When addressing others, he always uses people’s surnames of professional titles.
When out on his business dealings, he ensures that he gives others their personal space and restrains from contacting them physically. During weekends, he normally went out to party with his friends. Most of his friends were from childhood as Swedes make friendships gradually, with their friendships lasting forever.
At such times, they take fish, wild meat and alcoholic drinks. His friends said that his standard of living was high since Swedish inhabitants normally gauge standard of living by considering outdoor experiences, time spent with family, and instances to do things either unaccompanied or with their folks.
The interviewee emphasized on the need for cultural studies being incorporated into the curriculum. For business people, he said that it’s important for one to learn the culture of a country before carrying out any enterprise in the new country. He also recommended that the immigrants who come to Sweden make efforts to learn the Swedes culture as by doing so, they will fully be integrated into the country, noting that Sweden is a high trust society.
On the same note, he added that immigrants must first know that parting one’s resident country and relocating to a different country, particularly one that is culturally dissimilar, is forever going to have complicated issues that they will be required to conquer. Thus, they must be open -minded on how to handle situations and be ready to learn.
The interviewee hailed from Sydney’s South-Western suburbs He could only converse in one language, English. He was an artist who had a sense of humor. He was also a student at Queensland University. At the University, he was in the school of nursing. On several occasions, he represented the school in cricket and rugby at national level. He was also a devout Christian who came from a family of four.
The interviewee expressed disregard to biculturalism, as practiced in his country. He argued that instead, foreign cultures should mix and blend with the mainstream culture. He felt that every Australian should be conversant with English language as their cultural identity was much Anglo-Saxon. He also felt ambivalent about calling himself an Australian because Australians are perceived to be jocular beer drinkers and square-jawed farmers.
He was a Christian who fellowshipped at the Anglican Church previously called the Church of England. He highly regarded Christmas and Easter holidays. He believed in God and life after death. He also recognized the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s own son. He frequently attended and participated in church services.
It is worth noting that most Australians associate themselves with churches as they act as ethical guardians, offer public worship and a variety of other community services. The interviewee explained that during lunch hours at the hospital, they were usually offered light meals.
Being a nurse in Australia, the culture greatly impacted his interaction with others, especially patients. He said prior to making any clinical decision he always considers a patient’s beliefs and cultural background. For instance, when dealing with the Aborigines’, he had to identify the patient’s spokesman as he was not supposed to directly talk to the sick Aborigines (Horton, 2007).
Furthermore, if the Aborigine patient had to be referred to a different hospital, he has to organize how to ferry all the relatives of the sick patient to the hospital referred to, since Aborigines’ believe in close family ties (Bennett, 2001). He also said that culture impacts the way he conducts pain assessment.
Noting that patients come from different cultures, he said that there might be disagreement between care and cure and conflicting opinions about the role and position of nurses regarding provision of pain relief. Even in circumstances when he is completely pissed off by a patient’s behavior, he said that he always keeps this to himself. When he was not on duty, he normally listened to music or went out to party with friends, an act common with Australians (McDonald, 2002).
He had many and different kind of friends since Australians form acquaintances more rapidly, though these acquaintances are usually temporary (Kleinert & Margo, 2001). He also mentioned that his colleagues said that he had a high standard of living since Australians gauge an individual’s standard of living by assessing his material riches and comforts, which he was accustomed to.
The interviewee asserted that attitude was a key contributor to cultural divides. Thus, he recommended visitors to ensure that they adjusted to the new culture, regardless of their attitudes about it. He explained that this process of adjustment could be quickened by having a family or friends that one can frequently interact with.
He further explained that though an immigrant into a certain country may feel very comfortable being in the country for the first few days with many things to do, it would be important for the immigrant to know that after sometime, he ought to learn the new culture, lest the inhabitants will see him as their opponent or in other cases, as being disrespectful.
On the other hand, he explained that it would be important for the Australians to be educated on the need for accommodating new immigrants. He also recommended that the government and other public institutions should ensure that equal services are provided to all members, regardless of culture.
So as avoid an individual from having adjustment problems when visiting the two countries, Australia and Sweden, it is important to note that though their cultures may relate in some ways, they also may differ in other ways. People from both cultures are usually calm and like partying whenever they are free.
At the same time, persons from both cultures hardly express their sentiments, even when completely angered. Schools in both cultures mainly use English as the Language of instruction. There food is however dissimilar. Swedes eat lots of fish and wild meat while the Australians prefer small light meals.
In both cultures, there is freedom of worship. However, the two cultures gave dissimilar main churches. Whereas Lutheran is the main church in Sweden, the Anglican Church is the main church in Australia. As noted from the two interviewees, the Swedes are never too much devoted to the doctrine whereas Australians are typically devoted Christians.
Australians normally gauge standard of living by assessing material riches and comforts. On the other hand, Swedish inhabitants normally gauge standard of living by considering outdoor experiences, time spent with family, and instances to do things either unaccompanied or with their folks.
Australian and Swedish inhabitants form social interactions in a different way as a result of dissimilarities amid the two cultures. As a common rule, Australians form acquaintances more rapidly, though these acquaintances appear to be more temporary. On the other hand, Swedes makes friendships gradually, with numerous of their friendships made in early days, these acquaintances tend to last in the rest of their lives.
In conclusion, it is important for any foreigner to learn the culture of the new country, since different countries have different cultures. For a person aiming to do business in Sweden, it is very important for him or she to learn the business ethics expected. Also, for a nurse posted to work in Australia, he or she must learn the culture of the people.
This will enable him or her to be able to cope easily with the new people. It will also spare someone from culture shock. These are just but some of the areas where culture is strictly followed in the two countries.
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Horton, D. (2007). The encyclopedia of Aboriginal Australia: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, society and culture. New York: Oxford University Press
Kleinert, S. & Margo, N. (2001). The Oxford companion to Aboriginal Art and Culture. New York: Oxford University Press
McDonald, J. (2002). Federation: Australian art and society, 1901-2001. Natl. Gallery of Australia, 264, 45-67
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