Australia has a multicultural society that is diversified. A little more than 29% of people are born abroad. The country has about 300 separate ancestries, and it is known as the longest continuously existing civilization on earth.
Our varied backgrounds though are different and look distinct yet bind us. Unfortunately, some groups and individuals take advantage of these differences to create chaos among people and foment conflict. However, we are also people who demonstrate to people how to gain knowledge about other cultures, and it helps us in eliminating all divisive attempts by vested interest groups.
Here you will find some suggestions and examples of initiatives that help in paving ways to remove cultural barriers. These can be very useful for individuals coming to this beautiful land to make a future.
Meet people from different cultures
Noting can be more beneficial than meeting people to understand different cultures. You can spend time with others to fully understand them and avoid any type of misrepresentations and prejudices. Firstly, you may find it very challenging to move outside of your comfort zone, but gradually you will realize it is the best way to get to know people and their culture. There are language barriers too, but unless you meet and try to interact with them you may not find it easy.
In general, human beings are all intricate beings with multi-layered lifestyles and characters. The friends you already have can be a great resource to build a bond in this situation. Spending more time with someone gives you an opportunity to pay closer attention to who they are and you also come to share the interests you have.
Do not follow stereotypes
Always keep in mind that every individual is unique and hence you should not follow stereotypes by labeling them a pattern. People though can come from different locations, nationalities, and religions, yet, the human character prevails in all. So, stereotyping would be the worst thing you could do to anyone based on what you believe or what you have heard about people from a particular nationality, region, or religion.
You and other people may have more in common than you may realize, so give yourself some time instead of reaching a conclusion. You should know that the similarities between you and the new people you meet in Australia may have little to do with your upbringing. You may both enjoy the same movies, your parents may have worked in the same fields, you may be middle schoolers, and you both may have a dislike for certain things, yet you can be quite different in many ways. A person’s cultural background is usually never a cause of disagreements more than their personality and interests.
Be careful about your personal opinions
This is the worst thing you can do when you try to make yourself familiar with other cultures and lifestyles. Do you have a habit of making your own opinions of a particular group or another individual? Did you make an opinion about anyone before meeting them? What is your source of information? Are you receiving all your information from a single source? This is very natural in many of us, and we see everyone harbors biases (however unintentional). However, it is important to start to eliminate those ideas and talk to people and make them admit to any biases they may have towards you.
Learn from the previous experiences of others
This is again very important when you land in a new country surrounded by new people and new culture. Learning from each other’s experiences is a very crucial element of cross-cultural understanding. You will find many people have expressed them through stories, music, poetry, and song. So, you can take the opportunity to learn about a new culture through them. You can make use of various sources of music and art from many cultures while you nurture relationships through your love for similar types of art, music, etc.
Communication is the most crucial component
Different cultures around the world may have different ways of expressing themselves. You may have observed, some cultures value body language above verbal exchange of words. For example, avoiding eye contact is a sign of respect in some parts of Asia, but in North America it is crucial. A hard handshake is to show respect in Australia, but a kiss on each cheek is a day-to-day way of greeting people in Europe. When you land in a new country, it is quite natural to come across gestures that are unfamiliar to you, if you know these variances are there.
What you need to understand is that many times body gestures and sign language can remove the language barriers that may occur between you and others. So, make an effort to fill in the gaps through the most familiar expressions you know.
When in doubt, ask questions
Yes, this is very important. It is very natural to have doubts when you are in a new place amid unfamiliar surroundings. But then what do you do? Live with those doubts or clear them. Living with doubts may create more problems in the future. So, it is always better to clear your doubts by asking questions. If you want to know someone or something for real, then it is always a good idea to remove all the misconceptions you might have. Most people will welcome your quotes and will be more than happy to clear your doubts. They will take a chance to explain things from their point of view if you ask with an open mind and a sincere inquiry.