With Epic Share’s co-hosts having been out of town, they’ve returned hoping to remind everyone to appreciate cultural differences. Sammy and Kosta have traveled the world and had the opportunity to adapt to environments and cultures very different from their own. Traveling is a chance to step back and evaluate world values while learning to understand others. This is what living rich and living well is all about.
Living rich is about appreciating people and cultures, and reminding yourself not to take things for granted. Living well is about allowing yourself to understand another person and their culture from their point of view so you can live a simpler life.
As discussed in Thomas Friedman’s book, “The World is Flat,” globalization has made it easy to pack your bags and relocate to a new country; however, to truly benefit from traveling to other countries, one must learn to appreciate the cultures of the world.
LEARNING THE LANGUAGE
When Sammy first moved from Africa to North America, she did not speak any English. She chose to learn English because she knew North America would soon become her new home. If she wanted to be able to communicate with others in this new country, she had to adapt to the culture and the language.
Kosta, too, moved here 30 years ago with little to no English-speaking skills. Though it was an up-hill battle, he decided he had to learn the language and culture if he wanted to put food on the table.
LEARNING THE CULTURE
The first thing Kosta did when he moved to South Korea in 2003 was read about the country. He spent weeks researching online and reading everything he could about the culture, behaviors, societal expectations, and even business etiquette. Every detail matters, from how to say “hello” to business communication styles. Every factor will contribute to your success.
Kosta and Sammy believe what’s missing in North American society is a lack of education about how the rest of the world lives. When Sammy was in China, she witnessed Chinese society learning about the world’s culture and history. Living in Africa was the same: they wanted to learn about the world. Unfortunately, from Kosta and Sammy’s experience, North America seems to not be as conscious as other countries. Instead, they’re focused on their own culture and way of living.
If Kosta were to move to Mexico tomorrow, the first thing he would do is research the culture and learn the language. By setting foot in their country, he’s being welcomed by them. So, rather than sticking to his own language and customs, he would adapt to their lifestyle.
ADAPTING TO THE CULTURE
When traveling, you need to value the culture or you will not enjoy the time you spend there because you will be coming from a place of judgment. Sammy is often asked how she could enjoy teaching in China, but it’s because she shifted her perception to love the country.
Kosta has had the opportunity to shift his perception many times, as he’s traveled around the globe three times and been to every corner of Earth. When he moved to South Korea, he realized he needed to adapt to their way of living. It will not always be an easy task; many cultures are very different from the rest. Singapore, Australia, Japan… No matter where Kosta moved, he always adapted to the culture. This was the only way to be successful, to be happy, and to live a prosperous life.
Sammy’s first year in China was her most difficult because she remained in her box. She tried living life in China the way she lived at home. However, when she opened her mind and tried to understand the culture, things made sense. For example, in North America, a common habit is to kindly accept gifts or food you do not like, but having this habit in China was not easy. Instead, everyone continued to bring her more of the food she didn’t like. If she had been honest, this would not have happened. Today, she has adapted to Chinese culture and is very honest with everyone when she visits the country. By adapting to their culture, it has made her travels easier and stress-free.
Kosta constantly reminds himself that he was welcomed to this country as a guest and an immigrant. Today, it is his home, but before, he had to adapt to the culture, laws, and policies to learn how to communicate with others, understand behaviors, and be grateful. It’s no different than welcoming someone into your house and having them follow the rules. It’s your job as the guest to learn the language, learn the customs, and adapt to the way of living. If Kosta was asked what his top three keys to success are as someone who came to North America with only $75 and became a multimillionaire, he would say, “Adapting to the culture, adapting to the environment, and adjusting.”
Just be open-minded when visiting other countries. If you’re not traveling in the next six months, allow yourself to be curious. Go online and research different cultures. Cultural representation on TV is not necessarily accurate, so experience it for yourself. You have to understand cultures if you want to understand why people behave certain ways. If you don’t embrace other cultures or try to understand others, your life will not be as rich or as well as it could be. Stop living in judgement! Live a life of love.