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Nick Leising Ms. Ingram English 1103 Section 029 October 17, 2012 What Are the Benefits of Experiencing Other Cultures? I have decided to look into the various benefits of experiencing other cultures. I would like to know what different people would get out of, or believe they have gotten out of, learning about new cultures through first-hand experience. I am going to look at the effects from three different viewpoints. Whether they are people who want others to travel, people who often travel, or those who have never traveled or have just traveled for the first time, they all will have different views on what those effects are. First I would want to find out from those who would be people promoting travel. The group I am most interested in would be people involved with study abroad programs. The interest they would have in other cultures would directly affect what they could tell potential participants. The benefits would make people more inclined to take part in those programs. One of the more important health benefits gained from other cultures involves adaptation. Learning about other cultures and why they are the way they are will improve your health both socially and mentally. Gaining a more open mind is socially and mentally healthy. Sit.edu promises that one of the benefits of study abroad programs is learning ethics. “Crosscultural adaptation and skills building” along with “contact and resource cultivation” are promised. “Students also examine the ethics and impact of their research on local communities…” Anyone promoting travel would be able to use this information. It increases

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interest by showing how social health can be improved through learning tolerance and adaptation to different cultures. Study abroad programs that will benefit you are possible even here at UNCC. “Studying abroad will… help you develop greater self-confidence, independence, and self-reliance” (Office of Education Abroad). It is hugely beneficial to one’s health to have good self-confidence and independence. Self-confidence even delves into the realm of physical health in the way it affects a person. Self-confidence can cause people to treat themselves better and practice better health. Better self-confidence makes you mentally healthier through a more positive outlook. Finally, self-confidence leads to better social health because you have a better ability to reach out and communicate more efficiently. The study abroad leaders would be interested in getting students to travel. They would influence students using the benefits gained from the experiences. They are looking to provide intriguing information to people who want to have a meaningful foreign experience. The best way to increase interest is to show the different ways someone could benefit. The second group would be people who travel very often or for long periods. This could include pilots, soldiers, business people, researchers, or even those who just travel a lot. They would have an interest in the places they were and the cultures they were experiencing. Finding the benefits would give more substance to their travels. There are many different possible health benefits that they describe. A good portion of these benefits comes down to the cultures and their own beliefs. For example, in southern China and south-east Asia a panic disorder known as Koro is present. MacLachlan quotes Cheng speaking about how others can make people believe they suffer from Koro (MacLachlan 75). Imagine witnessing someone suffering from a disorder you had never seen before. Would you

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just ignore it or would you start questioning whether you suffer from the same problem in the same way people made some victims believe in it. Most likely you would not just develop the disorder but it is possible it would start making you wonder about the same problem caused by this panic. Even though you have never had these fears before, just seeing someone with them could cause a panic. In the same way cultures can be positively influential. While yoga is present in American society today, pretend for a minute that you know nothing about it. Imagine someone who has visited India many times before. If they were to experience yoga for the first time and then continue to practice it in their visits, they would have been positively influenced by a different culture. Someone like a business man who often visits India for work could implement yoga practices learned there to improve his physical and mental health. Eric Garland describes how this idea is applied in the business world. He explains how different companies have different beliefs depending on where they are. He says you have to experience these cultures first hand to understand. It is socially beneficial and therefore healthy to actually visit companies in different parts of the world in order to understand them and their way of thinking. It can create better relationships through this understanding. These are people who want to get more out of the cultures they are visiting. They have this viewpoint because it adds to their experiences. Improving health in some way, be it mental, physical, or social, would give the whole experience more depth. They see these health benefits because of what it brings to what they do. Some have done some extensive research which has led them to their beliefs. Others have learned just from continued experience in different ways of life.

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The final group I am looking at is people who have not traveled much and want to get something out of experiencing new cultures. They have the chance to actually do some traveling and are looking to gain some health benefits. These people have most likely done some research in order to discover what kind of health benefits they will be receiving, or are explaining what they got out of their first time seeing a new culture. The health benefits of traveling will often become evident after someone’s first time experiencing something new. An article from thewanderingnomad.com describes exactly how experiencing life in an ashram (where yoga is taught in India) for the first time changed her life. One excerpt shows exactly what some of the health benefits may be, “At the end of the month I leave the ashram. My classmates and teachers goodbyes ringing in my ears. I promise to come back and I mean it. I am 20 pounds lighter despite 3 full meals a day. My sky high blood pressure is actually within normal range and I feel as fresh as a newborn baby. Most importantly, my racing thoughts are, for now, as calm and tranquil as the refreshing water in our secret water hole.” She was able to become physically healthy in all these different ways by experiencing a cultural custom she had never before understood. Fred Nofziger talks about why he went to Europe for the first time. He says he and his wife, “took a first time-type European trip to gain some insight…” He goes on to talk about a few things that made his experience good. “London cabs are probably the best in the world.” “We commented on how cheerful the Trafalgar girls were that early and with so many excited people milling about…” “…the guides I met shared a common love for people, a deep understanding and respect for the history and heritage of their particular country…” All of these show how he and his wife gained happiness from their experiences. I think it’s valid to argue that happiness is healthiness. At least mentally,

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being happy makes you healthier. From what Nofziger said, they were extremely happy learning about different customs and people in Europe. They feel this way because of their strive to improve their health through experiences. They believe they will benefit in this way in order to have a reason to travel. They may also be gaining an understanding of why they attempted to travel for the first time. It is much more reassuring to visit somewhere new if you believe you will be getting something out of it.

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Works Cited “Benefits of Study Abroad.” Sit.edu. n.p. 2012. Web. 16 Oct. 2012. Garland, Eric. (7 July 2007). Experiencing Different Cultures Enhances Intelligence Professionals work? Competitive Intelligence. 16 Oct. 2012. MacLachlan, Malcolm. Culture and Health: A Critical Perspective Towards Global Health. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2006. Print. Nofziger, Fred. “Experiencing Europe The First Time.” Toledo: The Blade, 22 April 1984. Web. 16 Oct. 2012. Study Abroad. Charlotte: UNC Charlotte Office of Education Abroad, 2011. Print. “Yoga in India.” Thewanderingnomad.com. n.p. n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2012.