Cultural awareness: How to better understand cultural diversity as a solo traveller?

Traveling requests us babes to be sensitive, empathetic towards new people, cultures, and lifestyles. In this sense, cultural awareness in general describes this kind of sensitivity towards differences and also similarities between two cultures. Based on our developed sensitivity we are more able to engage in an appreciative, friendly, and respectful exchange with another culture. To learn and train your cultural awareness, there exist many different ways to do this, babe. Traveling – and especially traveling alone – is just one great example.

When it comes to cultural diversity I got often asked from our female community, how to differentiate cultures? You might know that I love to do research and talk about cultures and how our mindset evolves in cultures. Personally speaking, understanding cultural diversity helps me a lot during solo traveling. And it often is a great opportunity to interpret experiences and gain a more holistic view of a travel destination. Once, I came across a great book from Geert Hofstede. He is the leading researcher of intercultural differences worldwide and provides great insights for all travel enthusiasts. Thus, in this blog post, I will dig a bit deeper into culture and will give you travel babe a short introduction on how we can better understand different cultures all around the world.

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1. Introduction

In his famous book “Culture’s Consequences” Hofstede establishes a variety of criteria to differentiate cultures. Well, it’s not a this or that of a criteria, but countries can score higher or lower on a measurement criteria. Further, high is not better than low or vice versa – it just confirms the uniqueness of each culture in this world. And the different criteria influence each other and should better be interpreted in combination. At the end of this blog post you’ll find the link to an official calculator to receive the culture measures for your home country or dream destination. I am sure you will learn a lot about your own country and culture as well! Continue reading to understand some of the criteria that are used to describe cultural differences the best, girl.

Below you can see an example of the culture comparison between Singapore and the USA.

Culture Comparison Singapore vs. USA // Source: Culture Score Calculator

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2. Power Distance

The first criteria Power Distance describes the way how people are socially independent from another and differences in power exist. Also in a way that power is distributed unequally when scoring high on Power Distance and that this inequality is accepted by people. In contrast, cultures low in Power Distance do not accept inequality in power. Russia is an example for high Power Distance, while Denmark scores low on Power Distance. This insight is important when you travel solo to a country and to know what to expect when it comes to interacting with people when they being seen equal or unequal in society.

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3. Individualism vs. Collectivism

Individualism criteria refers to the intensity cultures manifest interdependence between its people. Thus, cultures high on Collectivism have established an in-group perspective meaning people belong to larger groups or clans and look after each other with greatest loyalty. And formulating “we” and “us” is most important in such cultures. Whereas, individualistic cultures refer to themselves and direct family members only and often talk more in versions of “I” and “me”. Typically, Western cultures are more individualistic, Asian cultures more collectivistic. Imagine you take a cooking class together with a local family, the above described composition of families is what you will experience on your solo travels, babe!

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Cultural differences can be overwhelming for a woman traveling! Often a culture shock leads to upcoming negative emotions. Therefore, click here for my blog post to read more about culture shocks and how to overcome them. I keep you covered, girl!

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4. Masculinity vs. Femininity

Facets of Masculinity in cultures imply “being the best”, achievements, winning, and competition. Cultures low on Masculinity and therefore high on Femininity are characterized by caring for others, being happy in life and ensuring quality of life. Besides, conflicts get avoided. For instance, northern European countries score higher on Femininity, while southern European cultures higher on Masculinity. When traveling alone to either of those countries, babe, you will experience more that performance will or the caring kind of culture.

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5. Uncertainty Avoidance

As we all know, the future is unpredictable. However, some cultures have established structures and controls to deal with the uncertainty and anxiety regarding the unknown future. Those cultures score pretty high on Uncertainty Avoidance, e.g. Germany and Japan. Cultures low on Uncertainty Avoidance just let it all happen without controlling it, while they accept the risks, e.g. in the UK. When traveling solo to a country that is high on avoiding risks, a lot of rules, guidelines, and controls for behavior and processes are established. And more risky actions or events are probably well-controlled or forbidden.

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To calculate the culture measure for your home country or dream destination, head over to free and official Culture Score Calculator by Hofstede. On this webpage you find way more information on how to interpret the values for your country, girl! Besides, you can dig deeper into cultural differences in the book from Hofstede here.

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Hey travel lovely! Cultural awareness is a great first step to become more mindful as a traveller. Want to know more about transforming yourself into a mindful traveller? Click here for my greatest blog post.

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// Disclaimer //  I was not paid for my reviews and recommendations mentioned in this blog post. The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are purely my own and can be considered as honest evaluations.

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What experiences referring to culture have you made so far? I would love to hear about your thoughts and cultural adventures! Please leave your comments and thoughts below or share them on social media @storiesoutofthesuitcase. Happy Traveling

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