Traveling, Cultural Difference and Personality Development
Taking Advantage of Cultural Difference in Travelling
Gaining of continuous knowledge is of critical importance for personal development. The creation of a self-awareness and increasing and enhancement of skills at regular intervals is critical in development of the personality and the way one would react and interact in various situations.
This learning and acquiring of new skills helps us in every step of life, be it in our personal lives or in our academic or professional lives. The implementation of the new skills, experience and knowledge acquired helps people to gain leverage and better utilize their skills.
This knowledge about new skills and new perspectives can come from various sources, the primary being the books while the other source for gaining of knowledge is from experiences. There is an every ongoing debate about from where one should acquire knowledge and skills. While a section of experts claim that one should use books to gain meaningful knowledge and skills, others claim that the best way acquire the best knowledge is through practical experience.
Those propounding the theory of gaining of knowledge from experience say that books only give information and knowledge about a particular subject and that too without any practical experience. They claim that books provide mere educational information which remains to be tested in the practical field.
They claim that the knowledge gained from practical experience and observation is much more stable than the knowledge gained from books. In this context many claim that when mistakes are done through the actual on the ground experience, such mistakes remain with the individual to the extent that they are rarely forgotten. This retention through practical experience is not possible by gaining knowledge from books. The proponents say that it is more pertinent to know aspects like culture and people are best suited through the gaining of knowledge through personal experience.
In case of issues that are related to development of an individual's personality, it is suggested that experience is the best way to do so. Certain issues that critically affect career and personal development like experience, tackling critical situations, handling cultural differences, adjusting to different situations and understanding the perspective of others is gained through direct experience.
Such gaining of knowledge through personal experience helps in personal development as well as in self-actualization. Experts claim that the best way to develop one's personality and to develop skills that help adjustments to various situation and appropriate reactions to various situations is possible through the direct experience of pacing oneself in the situation.
Travelling is said to be one of the best ways to gain meaning full experience in matters that relate to personal experience and personal development, self-actualization, development of skills to adjust to various situations and appropriate reactions to various situations as well as tackling cultural differences. These personal developments of travelers, experts say, ultimately help in development and enhancement of traveler's career potential and development.
This is so because of the growing trend of most companies to go global and the rapid spread of globalization. As companies and organizations internationalize, there is need for the employees to adjust to the different situations in different markets in different countries. The adjustments primary required is to tackle the cultural difference in various countries and society. Appropriate tackling of cultural differences creates a harmony as well as helps in gaining meaning full knowledge.
Cultural Differences and Travelling
The growth of the media has helped primarily in development of awareness among people about the cultures, beliefs and norms of other countries. There are two ways that differences in culture can affect a person. While a cultural difference in another country can be a positive learning experience for some people, it can be a negative influence on others. The outcome of travel in an alien country depends on the way people react to changes in culture.
The present developments in information technology and travel technology has opened up the world to the traveler. People are more easily able to travel from one country to another and engage in cross border travel. The border permit issues in many country blocks have also been relaxed to great extents than they were a few decades ago. Therefore international travel has opened up a great opportunity for people to gain knowledge and personal development.
The academic and professional careers have become more and more global. While the internet has brought the world closer, the development in cross border tourism and travel has increased the opportunity and scope for career development in other countries. However despite the growing importance of relationship between international travel and career development, yet there has been little research on the issue.
One of the studies for example, by Thomas, (2002) was done on corporate travelers who were pursuing organizational careers and is conducted and interpreted from an organizational point-of-view. However the primary focus of such research has been on the company human resource management strategies, while scant attention is given to individuals' attributes. Therefore such research has effectively neglected self-directed career development (Ali, 2012).
Other researchers like Suutari and Brewster (2000) and Vance (2002) claim the importance of selected or self-initiated expatriation by a section of the individuals who look to gain greater career development by working abroad in a different atmosphere. The researchers claim that is because such people feel that their exposure to alien and new cultures would effectively increase their capability to adapt to new conditions and situations and gain from the experiences of working and living in a new cultural environment (Vance, 2005).
Researchers, dwelling into the study of expatriate movement of professional from the home country abroad, deal with the aspect of the self-initiated mobility by individuals for personal reasons instead of the corporate assignment of staff for needs of the organization. The idea of such travel is to gain meaningful experience from the interactions and reacting to situations in a new culture-one where one is new as well as perceived to be someone from the outside.
A few researchers have tried to study the aspect of travelling for individuals like tourists, students who undertake overseas study, permanent migrants and individuals who simply want to ravel in order to gain meaningful cultural experience.
Learning from Travelling
As already discussed in the earlier section gaining of knowledge can happen through having personal experiences. This is especially true for issues that are related to humans and the society. According to Gunz and Peiperl, (2007), no matter how much you learn about personal and social factors and relations, the best way to gain concrete knowledge is through experiencing the situation personally (Gunz & Peiperl, 2007).
It has also been noted that that enhancement of adaptability to alien situations is important to excel in career, be it academic or professional. This is related to the aspect of rapid globalization of both education and business. More and more organizations provide quality education and the advancement in information technology as well as means of travel has brought the world closer. Le, Donnellan & Conger, (2013) therefore claim that often students wanting to study abroad find themselves amidst a new culture. Previous experience of dealing with tackling of alien cultures can come in handy in such situations which can help save valuable time for the students trying to adjust to the new conditions (Le, Donnellan & Conger, 2013). The time saved can help them concentrate more and more on the education and hence enhance employability (http://wall.oise.utoronto.ca, 2015).
The same is the case with multinational and global companies which employ a multicultural workforce. Moreover people employees often want to avail the opportunity of greater career advancement abroad and hence have to relocate abroad. In such situations, prior experience of tackling new and unknown situations helps employees to concentrate more on the work at hand rather than spending valuable time learning to adjust to new cultures, ideas and beliefs. Therefore it can be said that prior knowledge about possible situations in alien cultures and ways to handle such situations is beneficial to everyone at one point in life or the other.
Travelling can provide a person with this experience on a personal scale. This is specifically true for travelling to foreign countries or countries and states whose cultural make up is somewhat or entirely different from the one in which one was born and brought up. Travelling gives a perspective of one's place in the world when one meets and interacts with a society and culture, values and beliefs that are entirely different that one is used to.
But what are the specific issues and aspects of associated with travel that te4dns to make a traveler realize the difference between the home country and culture and the new culture that one finds oneself in? According to Murphy, Benckendorff and Moscardo, (2007), there are lot of aspects that can be different in different cultures and societies. Apart from the societal norms and beliefs, issues…