Culture to me is the intergenerational inheritance of traditions and knowledge that shapes our perspective of the world around us and how we internalize our environment. No single individual experiences every aspect of society, due to specific personal experiences limiting the number of things we have done. If I never break my arm, I can only emphasize with people who have to a certain degree. However, I would take it a step further and state that even amongst individuals who encounter the same experience, our perspective and what we draw from said experiences can differ if we all come from different cultures. Culture is one of the key defining factors, if not the defining factor, on how we view the world.
For example, I was born in Spain and raised in a very Spanish household that upheld many Spanish traditions and customs. Beyond the evident, such as language differences and the like, Spanish people have certain underlying tendencies that round out the edges of my culture and differentiate us from others. Firstly, the Spanish lifestyle prioritizes leisure and family over everything else. Foiling the capitalistic, hustle-and-bustle of American life, Spanish culture is all about the indulgement of life with family and friends. It is not uncommon to go out to long lunches with co-workers during the day, stay out late at bars and terrazas drinking and eating with friends, or joke and laugh with those nearest and dearest to you while enjoying some tapas and watching football. Spanish culture revolves so little around work and so much around vices that we are infamous for our siestas which are composed of napping for hours in the middle of the day after taking in vast quantities of food.
Eventually, my family and I moved to the U.S. and I encountered other cultures that differed from my own. These new cultures presented new perspectives to view the world, ranging from everything to outward affection, respect for elders, new religions, and new foods. At first, I clashed with these cultures as I struggled to understand the angle from which other people were coming from, with some of their actions being offensive in my culture and vice versa. Eventually, however, American culture started to rub off on me as I assimilated, and helped me create this interesting blend where I am now comfortable in both cultures and they both feel like my own. Yes, I still enjoy the occasional siesta but at the same time, barbecuing and watching football on Sunday have become routine parts of me and my family’s lives.