- Reflective Journal…………………………………………………………………….. 2
- Reference………………………………………………………………………………… 5
Studying, living and working in Australia is the best decision I’ve ever done in my life so far because it gives me the good opportunity to understand its special cultural characteristics through many real occasions, circumstances and events in the daily basic. I have done here about how to communicate with Australian, how to express myself in both social and working environment and how to find answers on my wonders about the country which I don’t know before. In advance that I chose Australia as the place to pursue my studying and working dream, I had researched some aspects about Australian culture through my friends studying in Australia as well as some literatures or studies about the culture of Australia. As Hofstede’s survey of cultural dimensions in 64 counties all over the world, including Australia, there are five dimensions in cultural framework such as power distance, individualism or collectivism, masculinity versus femininity, uncertainty avoidance; and long – term versus short – term orientation (Hofstede, 1990). However, I have realized that amongst those five dimensions, it’s better for me to choose two important ones which are much different from those of Vietnam, my hometown and Singapore which my family and I spent long time living in. It’s very interesting when understanding about individualism and power distance in Australian social life and working life.
As an early day of my student life, I met many friends from Chinese, Singapore, and American to local country. The first things we do are “say hello” and asking some personal information, for example name, age. To remember many friend’s name easily, I suggested that we should write our names (both full name and the name used to call daily) along with some specific characteristics of each individuals on our own papers. And so surprisingly, I recognized the difference of writing names between my country – Vietnam, Chinese, Singapore and local people – Australia. In my country and Chinese, Singapore, as influenced to culture by collectivism, family name is much more important than the last name (Jens Allwood, 1995). For example, in Singapore, people usually call Mr. Koh instead of full name Mr. Koh Chang or Mr. Chang. But in Australia in which the culture is influenced by Individualism (Individualism score in Australia is 90 whereas that in Singapore and Vietnam are 20 for both (The Hofstede Center, 2014), first name has been used in all situations in both society and working place (Samovar, 1998, Wilcoxson, 1992 and Hecht and Ribeau, 1989). And the most interesting situation what I experienced when communicating with my studying group (including Chinese, Singapore, Australia and of source, Vietnam) is that when needing some helps from others, there are some differences in language between Singapore and Australia. My Australian friend said “Do you give me a favor?” which is the standard sentence in English whereas my Singaporean said “Do uncle or aunt give some help?” Maybe, this sentence from Singaporean is in grammatical error in English, but that is the normal way they’ve said. As influenced by Culture of Individualism, Australia usually uses “I” and “you” in their saying (Gesteland, 1999). As the real example about Individualism in working place, I wanted to share my situation when working for local marketing company in Australia. When working there, I worked with the team which has only me as international staff. We were planning for marketing campaign to launch new milk brand in the local market. As usual in my mother country Vietnam as well as Singapore, team goal is much more important than personal goals. It means that individuals should contribute their efforts and creative ideas, sometimes tolerate the loss, to achieve better results for the whole team. However, personal goals are prioritized by Australian. They finish their works before handling the team works or there is a little idea contribution of individuals to the whole project. I recognized that Australian can control their own works by themselves (Wilcoxson, 1992) even though they must overcome many difficulties alone to become the heroes in their group at the end of stage (Bigoness and Blakely, 1996)
After I spent six months studying in Australia, I had a close Australian friend and she invited me to visit her house. As usually in my hometown as well as Singapore, I worn very formal clothes because I thought I would meet the Elderly in her family. Many people looked at me with the little bit surprising eyes when I came and bend at right angle to greet them. Then, they invited me to enjoy their dinner with them. After coming back to my house, I asked someone and read some articles about Australian culture relating to clothing and greeting to the Elderly. I recognized that in Australia, first name is used in preference to family name, casual wearing can be accepted in both social life and working place and using informal phrases such as G’day or Hello to the Elderly is usually used (Wilcoxson, 1992 and Hecht and Ribeau 1989). It means that Australia has the low Power Distance Index which defines the less powerful members in both family and companies (Hofstede, 1991, p. 28). According to Hofstede’s study, the Power Distance Index is only 37 while both Vietnam and Singapore are 70 which are much more than that of US, UK and Western countries. The elderly in Vietnam is always given or treated with special consideration, respect, honor and courtesy. When they come into a room, others will rise to welcome. In front of the Elderly, they don’t cross their legs (Gesteland, 1999)
To sum up, after living and working in Singapore, Australia has many differences with the culture of my hometown. If my hometown is influenced by Collectivism in which consider family, community and corporate goals is much more important than those of individuals, Australia is affected by Individualism culture in which individuals are put on priorities. Moreover, in comparison with Asian countries, Australian is more informal in communication, more casual in clothing and close with each other in both working life and family as the evidence of the low Power Distance index.
- Bigoness, W.J. and G.L. Blakely, (1996). A cross-national study of managerial values. Journal of International Business Studies. 27(4), 739-752
- Jens Allwood (1995). Intercultural Communication. Chapter 2. The Cultural Context. , University of Göteborg, Dept of Linguistics.
- Gesteland, R.R. (1999). Cross-cultural Business Behaviour. Copenhagen Business Scholl Press, Copenhagen.
- Hofstede, G. (1980). Cultures’ Consequences: International Differences in Work Related Values, Sage Publications, Newbury Park, CA.
- Hofstede, G. (1991). Culture and Organizations: Software of the Mind. McGraw-Hill, New York, NY.
- Hecht, M., P. Anderson, and S. Ribeau, (1989). The cultural dimensions of non-verbal communication”, in M. Asante, and W. Gudykunst (Eds), Handbook of International and Intercultural Communication, Sage, Newbury Park, California.
- Penny Bassett (2004). Chinese and Australian students’ cultural perceptions: A comparative study. Victoria University, Melbourne
- Samovar, L.A. Porter, R.E. & Stefani, L.A. (1998). Communication Between Cultures. Wadsworth, Belmont, CA.
- The Hofstede Center (2014). Five dimensions of Vietnam. Available at: < http://geert-hofstede.com/vietnam.html> (Accessed on 06 April, 2014)
- The Hofstede Center (2014). Five dimensions of Singapore. Available at: < http://geert-hofstede.com/singapore.html> (Accessed on 06 April, 2014)
- The Hofstede Center (2014). Five dimensions of Australia. Available at: < http://geert-hofstede.com/australia.html> (Accessed on 06 April, 2014)
- Wilcoxson, L. (1992). Australian values – Asia is your business, Research Institute for Asia and the Pacific. University of Sydney