Cultural Differences…?

Before traveling to Riva San Vitale to begin our semester abroad, a friend and I took a week to visit Vienna, Austria (or Wein) and Prague, Czech Republic (or Praha). We had a lovely time visiting all the major tourist attractions –

The Hapsburg Dynasty’s imperial palace, treasury, and apartments; Vienna Boys Choir; concert of the Vienna State Opera; Prague Castle; Astronomical Clock; and each of the four quarters of Prague.

In seven days, I was in six countries and heard an unknown number of languages between all the tourists and local residents. I am always intrigued by people and their cultures, so when traveling I thoroughly enjoy watching people and all that they do. Some differences that stood out to me include:

  • language – usually I can figure some items out on maps or menus but not in Czech!
  • PDA – it seemed that Europeans are more affectionate in public, including couples as well as parents with their children
  • clothing – Europeans, in general, seem to really be into their looks and clothing. Everyone looked fantastic all the time!
  • architecture – these cities are so old and have such history!
  • all the dogs, including the very small ones, are so trained! And people bring them into restaurants and other stores

What I found quite intriguing this week is that despite all our differences in language, values, beliefs, food, and culture, we as human beings are alike in many ways. Here are a few of my observations of people being people despite where we come from:

  • babies cry on airplanes
  • toddlers throw temper tantrums
  • young children are curious about things around them
  • mothers typically are the ones who take care of the babies and toddlers
  • fathers typically are the ones who teach their 8-year olds about some interesting phenomenon around them
  • almost everyone wants their photo taken in front of major tourist sites
  • most people want to follow traditions but many people are embarrassed to follow that tradition when it involves certain taboos

Although we have different traditions and experiences, this trip helped me realize that we aren’t so different after all!


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