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Intercultural Challenges
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Melbourne Polytechnic
-37.742439, 144.997687
Topic A difficult situation

A difficult situation I have experienced during my exchange

I am an exchange student in Melbourne, Australia. Melbourne is a multi-cultural city with inhabitants from all around the world. The five biggest ethnic groups in Australia are British, Irish, Scottish, Italians and Germans. I am studying in Melbourne Polytechnic for 5 months and the cultural diversity can also be seen in my school. We have students from many different countries such as from India, Pakistan, China, Germany, Mauritius, Columbia etc.

There has been one cross-cultural situation that I have experienced during my stay here in Melbourne. Two weeks ago I met one of my classmates in the city centre. He is originally from Mauritius and he is also studying the bachelor´s program of Hospitality Management in Melbourne Polytechnic. We decided to meet at a shopping centre 5.30pm in the city centre. I was running a bit late so I texted him that I was going to be late by 30 minutes. When I showed up at our meeting place around 6pm he was not yet there. I waited for a while and I did not hear anything from him. I was expecting to get a message from him saying that he was going to be late but I did not. I texted him and asked if he was going to be here soon and he replied that he will be there any minute. I waited and waited and finally 1 hour later he showed up.

I am used to people being late because my aunt and cousins are half Greek and knowing the Greeks they are always late. It seems that being punctual is not either an important feature in the Mauritian culture.

Afterwards we discussed the situation and he told me punctuality is not considered that important in Mauritius. It was interesting to learn about the Mauritius culture and hear his views of things. I told him that in Finland I am used to people being on time and it is seen rude if you are late. In the Finnish culture being punctual shows that you have respect for other people and that you care as much about their time as your own. He said that the next time he would be on time. When we met again one week later he was punctual and was there even before me.

I learned that all difficult cross-cultural situations can be resolved by communicating and understanding the other party´s culture. Cultures provide people with different ways of thinking, seeing and interpreting things. Something that is obvious for you may not be for someone else.

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