Homework Writing Help on My Cultural Experience

My Cultural Experience

Culture has several definitions, however, in this context, I will define culture as the social interactions, customs, and arts of a specific social group, individuals or a nation (Northoff 2). Alternatively, culture is the mutual respect and understanding of people’s arts and psychological achievements. Cross-cultural relations are full of new experiences that are mostly foreign to the involved parties. As much as these experiences might be exciting, appealing, and eye opening, they also have their portion of challenges and misconception. Intercultural relations have different defining moments, which enable individuals to value cultural differences. This piece of writing narrates my personal cultural experience.

Personally, I believe that cultural experiences, apart from experiencing food, festivals, and arts instituted in a particular place, has more to do with immersing myself in the general aura of the environment. When in a new cultural setting, there is nothing amazing like interacting with the locals, if I wish to grasp the cultural concepts and to acquaint myself with the best ideas on where to view the authentic cultural activities. When I am on a mission to explore cultural diversity, I prefer to travel alone so that I can have no other choice but to interact with the locals and in the process learn through firsthand experience about their customs and norms. Personal interactions with the locals bring a new meaning to my cultural experience. Therefore, for my cultural experience, I opted to tour myself to a different culture within my country.

An analysis of my cultural experience that I had in an attempt to explore religious cultural beliefs cannot be related to anything I had anticipated. It was a mix of both fascinating as well as embarrassing experience. Right from my existence, I was immersed in a culture that endorsed Christianity and the biblical teachings. As a Christian, I strongly believe in the deity Jesus Christ, who is the son of the Holy trinity (Lynch 1). I also believe that Jesus came to earth as the incarnate form of God to save humanity. He paid for our sins and drew us closer to God through his crucifixion. On the third day, he rose again and is sited at the right hand of God. He will return to judge the living and the dead. I have so much to say about my religious beliefs and doctrines that if I start listing them down, I will be jeopardizing my thesis statement. 

As a Christian, we have some rituals and practices that we abide by. For instance, we have several houses of worship and I have worshiped in nearly all of them including cathedral, church, basilica, and chapel. I mostly worship on Sunday, though there are other Christian holidays such as Easter whereby we gather to worship (Lynch 2). My religious leader can be a pastor, deacon, preacher or a minister. Major sacred rituals carried out in my religion are baptismal and holy communion. I can put on anything to church, so long as it is decent and I do not need to cover my head during the sermon. Basic symbols we endorse include the crucifix, dove, and cross.

In my younger years when I used to attend Sunday schools, I often wondered why there existed other religions apart from Christianity. I tried to inquire from my Sunday school teachers and parents, but all they told me boiled down to a single understanding, that other religions had their own beliefs but Christianity was the best. My curiosity did not end there since I was eager to find out more about these varying beliefs. However, when I was seventeen years, I wanted to explore other religions apart from the one I am used to. I was so naïve then that I only knew about one religion, with no knowledge whatsoever about other religions. I secretly investigated on other religions within my society and figured out that apart from my prevalent Christianity, another dominant religion in the region was Muslim. On this rare occasion, I decided to worship with Muslims, and relating to my earlier investigations, I found out that they conduct their mass on Fridays and that they worship in mosques.

The only problem was that being a weekday, I was supposed to be in school and having a strict caregiver as a mother, there was no excuse I would give her to measure up for my absence in school. Therefore, I decided to come up with a plan. I dressed up in my school uniform but along the way, I branched to a nearby public joint and changed to my civilian clothing, a slightly long skirt below my knees and a nice sleeveless fitting top. I diverted my direction from school towards the mosque. I materialized at the mosque late and found the mass had already commenced. Being my first time to be in a mosque, I was attracted to the magnificent building. As I approached the mosque, I noticed an octagonal slim tower rising from the mosque, and thought to myself that the architectural design used to design this mosque must have been of higher standards. As I neared the environment, I noticed that the atmosphere was very peaceful and void. I knew I was late for the mass but I made my way in. I was shocked to observe that shoes were strategically arranged at the mosque door-shelves and did the same.

With just a few steps inside the mosque, I was astonished by several things that I only realized later that my staring presence was causing havoc to my fellow worshippers. I could not help but stare at the worshippers who were all dressed in clothes that covered their whole bodies, and were directly kneeling and bowing on the floor covered with a red carpet and every woman covered her head. There were no sits whatsoever in the prayer hall, but instead were replaced by numerous bookshelves on each corner. I was beginning to be the centre of attention since most eyes were directed towards me as if to inquire why I was confused. To end the bizarre moment, I decided to join the worshippers by kneeling and bowing though it was clear that I was the odd one out. I did not have the white gown and being a female, my head was not covered. Looking at the pulpit, I saw the preacher whisper something to a certain lady who walked towards me and asked me to accompany her. At first, I thought I was being chased out only to find out that she was taking me to a secluded room.

Suspecting that I was not a Muslim, the lady inquired to know my religion and whether I wished to be a Muslim convert. Deep within me, I knew this was not my call, but I wanted to learn about this culture. Therefore, I asked her to take me through Muslim doctrines first. With a smile on her face, she began by saying that it was important to put on clothes that cover my entire body when attending a masjid as they called it, and that I had to cover my head either when I am in the mosque or when walking down the streets. We had a lengthy talk that took several hours. I learnt a lot from this lady about her religion, such as a mosque is their house of worship and their ideal worship day is every Friday. Their religious leaders are imams, and their primary sacred rituals included the five pillars: faith, confession, pilgrimage, charity, and prayers and their major symbols included the crescent and Arabic name of Allah (Lynch 3).

I also learnt that unlike in my religion, Muslims do not believe in the holy trinity, and they only worship God. The more we dwelt deeper in Muslim doctrine, the more I realized it tremendously contradicts with my Christian beliefs in some aspects. I was beginning to get confused and was seeking for the slightest possible chance to excuse myself without causing any affiliation. Luckily, an excellent opportunity came by when one of the imams approached my new imam to confirm something and I used this chance to excuse myself, assuring her that I will come back next Friday dressed in white and with my head covered. That was the first and last time I was in a masjid. I sneaked from school to learn something new about a different religion, a religion that was only popular from a distance but knew nothing about. I did not only appreciate and respect the new religion, but also the experience made me value my religion more than before. As much as these worshippers were friendly and willing to convert me, I was not ready to abandon the religion I grew believing in. I later understood why my mum and Sunday school teacher emphasized that Christianity was the best religion for me.

Works Cited

Lynch, Gordon. Religion, Media and Culture: A Reader. 2nd ed. Vol. 3. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2012. 150-253. Print.

Northoff, Georg. “What Is Culture? Culture Is Context-dependence!” Culture and Brain 2.4 (2008): 77-99. Print.