Can you ever adapt to a culture too much?

Well my phone is officially fixed! Katya was kind enough to help me by calling the phone company. Apparently when I bought my phone the saleswoman wrote down the wrong phone number. So now I have a new number and they’re even going to credit my account a bit to compensate for the mistake.

Then I went to a party with a bunch of other teachers from one of the neighboring schools. Again it was great to mingle with both English-speakers and Russian-speakers together. One conclusion I made today is that I don’t want to be Russian. When I first came I thought having been born Russian would solve all my problems. But now I realize I just want to understand them, their behaviour and language and get inside their heads. I want to understand the culture inside and out. But the more time I spend here and around Russian people the more I find I’m adapting. I know one of the main goals of intercultural training is to achieve such adaptation and understanding but right now it’s working against me. Things are becoming “normal” and commonplace and I have to work to dig deep and try to analyse behaviour that now seems everyday to me. In answer to the question in the title, I think it depends on your goals. If you want to function well in a culture, then the answer is no. But if you want to study differences and have observations pop out at you, the more you adapt, the less this will happen. I hope to find a happy medium. Perhaps there are some tools I can implement to help me understand things better without losing the adaptation. And so the learning continues…

After the party I went home with Alisa and we watched a film together. It was dubbed in Russian and I’d already seen it in English so it made it really easy to understand and the two languages kind of ran together into one. Then she went to leave and we ended up saying goodbye and talking until 4 in the morning. I know I keep saying it but it can’t be said enough: it’s great to be surrounded by such amazing people and have such wonderful friends here.

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