Culture Shock and the Differences Between United States and Saudi Arabia
Culture refers to distinctive characteristics that purpose to distinguish one society from others. The specific features of culture include race, language, gender, cuisine and other many features that distinguish one people from others. Understanding cultural differences is an important step towards achievement of organization and personal goals in any society. Cultures are acquired within groups in the course of cross generational interaction and are thus passed from one generation to another. Additionally, they may be adopted through interactions with individuals outside one’s cultural group.
Culture shock may occur when one is exposed to a culture that is different from one’s own. The concept of cultural shock entails feelings of confusion and anxiety that come with exposure to different cultures. Challenges in language, cuisine and other aspects of social interactions and acceptable behavior can all result in culture shock. The shock is more prevalent when one is taken from their own country to another country where there is a completely different culture.
Cultural shock is caused by several factors. The lack of common language, common food and the inability to malign with social expectations all contribute to increased anxiety and confusion. This makes it difficult to prevent cultural shock as exposure to new cultures is inevitable. Cultural shock is often exhibited in five major stages. The first stage is the honey moon stage. This is followed by the stage of disintegration of the old systems of culture. The third stage is the reintegration of the new culture while the fourth stage is the reintegration towards autonomy. The culture shock is finalized through acquisition of independence (Pedersen 3). Culture shock can be recognized through various features. For instance, those undergoing culture shock are more likely to exhibit rejection and tendency to reject others, homesickness, irritability, excessive sleeping and insecure feelings among others.
Differences in culture exist between the United States and Saudi Arabia that can result in culture shock. In terms of the political systems, the US system is more liberal and conservative while the system in Saudi Arabia is subject to the control of the Islamic Sharia laws. The laws determine the political regime as well as various other social norms that are applicable in the society. Women rights are also different in the two countries. In Saudi Arabia, women have lesser rights and are subjected to more stringent laws compared to the US.
The women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to engage in public display of affection for any man except those to whom they are related (Expat par. 3). They are also limited in their capacity o operate businesses, drive cars or engage in various other activities. The United States system is more liberal with women having rights to be employed, drive their own cars and even operate businesses independently. The government in the US is led by a presidential system that operates in three levels. On the other hand, the system in Saudi Arabia is a hereditary monarchy. The US citizens have the right to impeach the president while the Saudi Arabians cannot impeach their king. He can only leave office through death or voluntarily stepping down (law Teacher par. 2).
Other differences exist in the aspects of leadership choice, religion and cuisine. In the US, leadership is mainly elected. On the other hand, the king in Saudi Arabia is non- elected. The cabinet also comprises of close friends and relatives of the royal family. The key religion in Saudi Arabia is Islam while traditional foods are a delicacy in the Emirate. On the other hand, the US practices religious freedom and are more in tune with fast foods.
Expat Arrivals. “Culture Shock in Saudi Arabia”. Web. Apr. 12 2013. http://www.expatarrivals.com/saudi-arabia/culture-shock-in-saudi-arabia
LAW TEACHER. “Differences between the United States and Saudi Arabia governments”. Web. Apr 12 2013. http://www.lawteacher.net/public-law/essays/differences-between-the-united-states-and-saudi-arabia-governments-public-law-essay.php
Pedersen, Paul. The Five Stages of Culture Shock: Critical Incidents around the World. Westport, Conn. [u.a.: Greenwood Press, 1995. Print.
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