A thought on Cultural Immersion

Next week, I will finish my exchange program at Dickinson College, and at this moment, some memories bubble to the surface. After packing my clothes and belongings, the smell of the yellow books borrowed from the library or the glimpse of photos from the first weeks in the US trigger the best and the worst moments I have had in my life so far.

Before coming to the US, I had planned to see many American attractions. I would see the Statue of Liberty, I would walk the Brooklyn bridge, I would jog in Central park, I would admire the Washington Monument, I would smell fist-hand Niagara Falls, I would visit many American museums… I had made a small list containing the top things to see and the top things to do, and they would include getting under the skin of the culture, like reading popular books or listening to popular songs, eating authentic food like Philly cheesesteak, chicken pot pie, or New York cheesecake. Living in an English- speaking country meant talking, reading, traveling, and hundreds of hours of conversation.

Cultural immersion and translation

Yes, translating implies that you have a thorough and accurate knowledge about both languages’ grammar, expressions, technical words, and linguistic theories. It means that you are able to transfer meaning from an original source language into a target language. The native speaker from the target language is going to read the translated text as if it were originally written for him.  When we translate, we put ourselves in the author’s shoes and we analyze the context and the purpose in which these words were written or spoken. By being exposed to the language first-hand, it is easier to understand the culture and to recreate the contexts in which these texts were produced.

A Different Concept

If you had asked me at the beginning of this year what “cultural immersion” meant, I would have answered that it meant traveling to another country, and an opportunity to learn the culture`s peculiarity. I would have stressed that traveling to an English- speaking country represented a possibility to “perfect” your language skills like a magical potion.

Now, I would say that “culture immersion” is about feeling the adrenaline of moving away from the comfort zone, learning from other people, observing places, and writing a story about yourself in a new place, meeting new people with thoughts different from your own, grabbing a bike and touring through nature and uncommon places, walking with no direction in mind and knowing the outskirts of a town or a city. It is the recollection of these cherished moments and the remembrance of the sounds, the smells, the sights, and the textures that shape my memories about the US.

Sharing quality time with new friends.
Sharing quality time with old and new friends.

Best and worst moments in the US

Culture immersion meant to me an opportunity to dive into the culture and to polish-off my English. After many months spent in here, I don’t feel ready to leave, and I actually won`t leave yet, because I have decided to take some more opportunities to travel.

The best moments that I have had were those in which I could share with American families and getting to know the culture in depth.

Cooking homemade empanadas and sharing philosofical thoughts about life.
Cooking homemade empanadas and sharing philosofical thoughts about life.
Gathering after hearing anecdotes and a cozy weekend with an American family.
A cozy weekend with an American family.
A special Thanksgiving with an American family, gathering around the fire and enjoying some s'mores and hot apple pies.
A special Thanksgiving with a friends’s family, gathering around the fire, and enjoying some s’mores and hot apple pies.

The worst moments that I have had are coming right now: packing my memories and my belongings, with the thought that, in a month or so, I will leave the country which was my home for the past months…

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I haven`t left yet, so I would like to share a video with you about my experience. I want to thank all my American friends and international friends with whom I spent unforgettable moments. As cheesy as it sounds, I am a different person because I opened my heart to a different culture and I let it enter my heart. Enjoy!

I hope you had enjoyed the video! Keep moving and you`ll embrace many adventures that await you. Life has many surprises that are hidden in the world, in the people, in the cultures, you just have open your heart to receive those gifts.

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5 thoughts on “A thought on Cultural Immersion”

  1. It is really interesting to hear someones perspective on the United States that is not from here. After reading some of your posts, I realized that I do not appreciate some of the things here in America enough. Thank you for bringing some perspective!

    Like

  2. You paint a very descriptive and detailed story about your time in America. Throughout the post, you maintain a down-to-earth tone of voice which helps me as a reader, connect a lot easier.

    Like

  3. I really liked this post. I have only been out of the country one time, and it was only for about a week, so I’ve never fully immersed myself into any other culture but my own. I found this post to be very sweet and personal.

    Like

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