🇮🇳 India taught me…Mar 24, 2023
For eight years, I worked in India - from exporting coffee to language and culture training.
As I sat with friends over chai and meals, I learned some important lessons that have forever shaped my life.
While I would love to share a cup of chai with you to tell you more about them, for now, there are 3 lessons that I am grateful for.
India taught me…
1. The value of time ⏰
In America, time is money. Money is time. We are constantly looking for ways to be faster and more efficient. What can we do differently to save money? What can we do to make more money? Unfortunately, money is god in America. It’s the lens our culture views success, worth, and value.
Because of this, Americans are very good at accomplishing tasks and making things happen.
When I first moved to India, I had this perspective - to be fast and efficient. My first days in India were planned and scheduled to the minute. After all, there was work to be done and tasks to be completed.
I quickly discovered that not everyone thinks the way I do. My Indian friends did not plan their days as I did. The meetings went long. No one showed up on time.
I was frustrated.
From my Western perspective, my time wasn’t being respected or valued. I quickly learned that Indian culture viewed time through a different lens.
What was that lens?
I learned that time is measured by relationships and not the numbers on the clock. The person in front of you is the highest priority. This means that the task at hand becomes secondary. What this also means is that the time on the clock doesn’t dictate when something should happen.
India taught me to take my time, value the person in front of me, and be present.
2. The value of family 👨 👩 👧
In America, when you ask someone who is in their family, they will respond by telling you who is in their nuclear family - mom, dad, and siblings. In India (and in most Eastern cultures), family is not just your immediate family, but your extended family. When people in India think of their family it can include 50 to 100 people.
In America, I was raised to be independent and to take care of myself. My life was my responsibility.
When I was working in India, my eyes were opened to a different perspective. Life was about sharing and supporting the group, not just the individual.
Festivals and even birthdays weren’t about a single person, but an opportunity for the whole family, the whole community to come together, support, and be with each other.
In our drive for independence, we’ve missed out on the blessing of going through life with a constant support system. India taught me to place a renewed value on my family and my community.
3. The better way to clean 💦
Okay, now for a less serious lesson. India persuaded me to move from paper to water. The great debate between the roll and the sprayer has been settled in my mind.
In America, if something is dry it means that it’s clean, but in India, it’s the opposite. If it is wet it is clean.
When I came back to America, I heard from my friends that this was one of the biggest culture shocks. And this is what lead me to create videos like these:
Why is culture so important?
Culture is the unspoken rules that everyone within a society lives by. The best way to learn about a culture is to listen, learn, and live within it.
I hope that during your time in America as a student and professional, you’ll be able to learn more lessons that will stick with you for a lifetime. Learning and living within a new culture can be extremely frustrating and overwhelming, but I encourage you to go about it with an attitude of humility.
- Spend time with Americans
- Ask questions
- Don’t be afraid to fail
When you do, your world will be opened, it will make you a better person, and you’ll have something to take back to your culture.
After my family came back to America, I’ve been spending my time through Chai and Coaching helping people like you adjust and thrive in America.
What questions do you have about American culture?
What new or different thing have you been learning?