The city of Brest is located at Brittany in northwestern France; its history can be traced back in 334 AC, when a navigator called Joan of Arc discovered a deep harbor connecting the France with the United States. The city lies between a pair of hills called deCoup Tatas; the main economic activities in the city are farming, shipping and tourism; it is the country’s second largest harbor.
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The residents give visitors warm welcome and when allowed they are willing to spend time with the visitors (IndigoGuide-France, 2011). Melbourne is located in Victoria, Australia at the center of the county of Melbourne; it is a metropolitan city, which operates 24hours, seven days a week (City Of Melbourne home site, 2011).
In January 2011, I and my colleagues has an educational tour to Brest for two weeks, during the visit we experienced some differences between the city’s way of life and that of Melbourne; as well we noted some similarities in the way of life of Brest residents and Melbourne residents.
This paper discusses differences and similarities between the Brest city and Melbourne as experienced in a tour to France and the challenges that the two cities cultural differences pose on students studying abroad.
Brest emerged because of the deep harbor where it stands; Cardinal Richelieu, in 1631 was the first person to recognize the benefits that the harbor could have on French people; it offers a close linkage between the country and the United States. He demarcated the place and its first trading using water as the means of transport was experienced.
During the Second World War, the harbor was actively used by the American to ferry their soldiers and in 1917, the French government recognized the main port of French Navy; since then the city has grown to be a military campsite, business area, and tourism city.
During the Second World War, the city was an active base for German troupes; in 1944 the city development was fully destroyed by the so called the Battle for Brest. The Germans took the responsibility of the destruction and compensated the people. It is a busy onshore city with well-developed transport and communication networks.
On the other hand, Melbourne was discovered in 1945 when schooner Enterprise arrived in the city; it was at the time of King William IV.
The city emerged as a result of barely legal and speculative settlement of people who freed from New South Wales, it was later in 1847 recognized as a city by Letters Patent of Queen Victoria dated 25 June; the main advantage that the city has is its central position which makes it more accessible from different parts of the country.
The cities good infrastructures make it an accessible offshore city were people form different countries visit for various reasons.
The emergence of the two cities is different with that of Brest being a business-oriented mind and that of Melbourne as an informal settlement. This kind of emergence has shaped the cultures as administered in the two cities.
In Brest, people are more opportunistic and have a business mind; the growth of the tourism industry in the area is a reflection of how the people are warm, friendly and willing to mingle a factor that is common to business-oriented population.
Brest is an administrative city favored by its central location, and can be accessed from different parts of Melbourne. The role it plays in the economy has resulted to a number of people living in the city who have diverse culture and beliefs. This has resulted to a city with a mixture of cultures that can blend easily.
The city of Brest being an onshore city has a deep harbor that offers an advantage to its economic activities; the harbor is the first link that the country has to the United States of America and thus forms the major source of economic activities. Shipping business is the main economic activity in the area; it has the capacity of receiving large and small ships as well as aircraft carriers.
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The economic activity offers the country an advantage of multiculturalism, since a number of people are likely to visit the country. On the other hand, the tourism industry has forced the locals to preserve their culture, as it is one of the main attracters of the tourism. The city has high value of its culture; the government shows its support through an administration of a culture, and sports office at ministerial level.
Toubon law has been enacted in the constitution with an aim of preserving the country’s culture. Through the city has a military base which seem to take control, the service sector of the economy is the main dominant ; they include the hospitality and banking industry (Twitchell and Mildred, 1990).
Brest portrays the country’s high culture and artistic nature, it is decorated with ancient drawing and art works that dates from 19th century; the art work has animals, historical people, ancient building shapes and some portraits showing past activities like war and players.
The artistic work in the city portray the strong links that the country has with economic, political and military importance; most of the drawing along cities, buildings, social places, fashions and in cuisines have a historical meaning connected to economic, political and military importance (Dowrick and Riaz, 2003)
Other than the material artifacts, the residents of Brest have characteristics of modern European life they have interacted, and have been blended to adopt some style of living.
In both Brest and Melbourne the rule of law is adhered to however the countries constitution recognizes that some ethnic groups have some unique way of doing things; the uniqueness and cultural diversity is encouraged, as along it does not affect other people rights (Official Web Site of the City of Melbourne, 2011).
Despite the city having the dominant people living in the region with their local language as Breton, the language is not the official language; the city adopts French as the official language. In the effort to preserve the local language, the administrators of the city have launched programs that aim at teaching the language to young people in schools and university.
To maintain language in the city, the government has various programs in the effect, they include the governments sponsored schools of the language to the locals and the support of Breton language aired cinema and artifacts.
Melbourne is considered as a monolingual city but English is used as “de facto” national language and thus used in schools and offices; there are no deliberate efforts to maintain any language thus the communication in the city is controlled by the people concerned (Kelly, 2001).
Fashion and clothing
The clothing and fashion styles in Brest and Melbourne are different; the Brest has official dress code and in their efforts to maintain their culture that attracts tourism, they have maintained traditional dress codes.
Uniqueness matters; they are willing to learn new versions from foreigners and shortly adopt it as a dress code. The most common dress code that is worn in Melbournians are iconic local styles include bush-wear and surf-wear; they are also concerned on fashion and decency in their dressing (Official Web Site of the City of Melbourne, 2011).
Cultural and social adjustment involved in living and studying in another culture
Though culture is invisible, it has an effect and controls the way of life that people in a certain jurisdiction have. When visiting a foreign country for business, recreational or educational purposes foreigner experiences cultural differences and to the extremes cultural shock (Dauncey, 2003). To fit and adjust in a new environment, a person needs to learn and understand the life that people living in the area have.
Language difference is one of the most challenging factors that a foreigner has to face in a foreign country. Communication is important thus there is need to have a medium of exchange and understanding. For example, a student seeking college education in Brest can only fit better in the locality if he has good mastery of French and Breton.
The learning institutions there teach in the languages thus before one adjusts it may take a while. When someone cannot mingle with others effectively, he is likely to be seen as an outcast thus his life in the country will not be enjoyable.
Beliefs, values and attitude that a person hold are elements of culture, when one gets into an environment where they do not share beliefs, he is likely to have issues adjusting and changing his ways.
Onshore and offshore cultures have different beliefs, values and attitudes; for example when a Melbournian goes for studies in Brest, he is likely to be shocked by the dress code and the way the young people address the old. The young can expose their body parts and wear tight skin clothes and still mingle with their parents, this is different with the case of Melbournians.
Potential barriers in cross-cultural communication
One of the main barriers to cross cultural communication is lack of cultural intelligent people: a culturally intelligent people do not jump into conclusion about the beliefs, attributes and behavior that a member in a certain community will have.
The fact that certain community culture seems to be looking at a certain direction should not be the only parameter to determine the culture of an individual. The time that he gives to learn the tribe’s behavior and mode of doing things assists in integrating the communities and having a common sense of belonging.
Another barrier to cross-cultural communication is the most dominant characteristic of culture that one’s culture is unique, and should be followed by others. When this is the case, then people are not willing to strike a middle ground in their culture diffusion but aims at making the other party see the sense in his culture and join him. Both are aiming at a similar desitiny but the solutions expected are different.
When foreign students get into France, they are not given a chance to exercise their culture they are expected to keep the culture of the French people.
The existence of conservatisms both at national and kinship level also hinders culture diffusion and integration: some people are so concerned about keeping their culture and passing the same to future generation, they are static to changes that are brought about by other cultures.
For example, Brest Administration has embarked on local tradition and culture promotion through the ministry of culture: the move make the Breton people repel and keep held to their culture, they tend to repel any other diffusion and integration with others (Triandis, 2006).
Though communication and language is an element of culture, it also is a hindrance to cross-cultural communication, people see their language as superior and thus they are not willing to adopt an international language that is likely to give pathway to understanding of other people’s culture.
Communication is important in cross-cultural diffusion and development of a global culture, without a generally accepted culture that all parties can understand will lead to world with different views and perception about each other since they hardly understand what other peoples feel.
Communication becomes effective when the language that the two parties are using is well understood by them; this is the use of language. Language goes further than the oral talks but involve written information, body language and electronic transfer of information. It is the language used that makes the world have “sense” everything that is in the world gets a meaning when language is used to express its use.
Problems only get a solution when the solvers can use the correct language. The innovations that is a good resultant aspect of education has its root in language; this span from the general understanding of things as they are to specific analysis of a particular case.
Taking a traditional case, in each society there is culture that holds its people together, one of the major components of culture is language; this is because the language that is adopted by a particular society is unique in its own ways
From certain angle media has been seen to create a cut line between cultures, it is seen to emphasis on differences that exists among different culture thus limiting the rate of cross-cultural communication.
For example in France the media follows an European setting and advocates for the style as the dominant and superior way of living, in its programs it is seen to disregard other cultures. When it has brought other peoples culture, it is in a comparison manner with the European one, at the end then the two cultures differences are reinforced (Hampden–Turner and Trompenaars, 2006).
In the process of socialization, human beings adopt a certain culture; culture is defined as commonly experienced attributes and traits that can be seen in a homogenous group of people mostly living within the same locality. The Melbournians culture has some similarities as well as differences with the Breton’s culture.
Breton, an onshore city, has different values, attitude, perception and beliefs than those held by Melbourne, an offshore city. Australian students in Brest have to adjust to the Breton way of life, they need to learn their culture and respect it; by so doing they will be able to overcome challenges brought about by cultural differences.
City Of Melbourne home site.2011. Melbourne city Baths. Web.
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IndigoGuide-France. 2011. Brest France – Tourist Travel Guide – French Holidays. Web.
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Official Web Site of the City of Melbourne.2011. About Melbourne Development. Web.
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