Foreign Culture
Travel Thoughts

Is it bad to be more obsessed with foreign culture than with my own?

Is it bad to be more obsessed with foreign culture than with my own?

A friend and I have been discussing how we are both obsessed with cultures that aren’t our own; she is fascinated with everything Korean, whereas I’ll devour anything and everything that’s either French or Russian.

I couldn’t pinpoint when my interest began, and I only understood I was in it when I could transition from speaking English to French or Russian (though I suppose I could always blame Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Alexandre Dumas). It was even brought to my attention by a friend.

I even fangirled over a few celebrities, including Russian actor Stanislav Bondarenko and French actor and model Gaspard Ulliel, who died recently in a skiing accident (this news broke my heart).

Foreign Culture - Celebrity crushes - Russian actor Stanislav Bondarenko - French actor Gaspard Ulliel

I sometimes feel guilty for being interested in cultures other than my own. I mean, I’m in a relationship with a French guy and currently reading Happiness Is Possible by Oleg Zaionchkovsky. Some of the places on my bucket list include Lake Baikal, the Kamchatka Peninsula, and Moscow in Russia. The Côte d’Azur, Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, and Biarritz in France.

My mother, the most open-minded person in the universe, imparted some wisdom on the subject and got me thinking about it.

  • Is this having a negative impact on your everyday life?
  • Are you growing unsatisfied with your own life?
  • Are you putting your interest to good use, such as learning about their culture, history, food, people, and language?

Here’s what I learned:

Foreign cultures provide something new and exciting. It broadens your perspective and encourages you to discover new things. There are undoubtedly aspects of other cultures that you dislike or find unpleasant. All of these variables contribute to the foreign appearing more intriguing and thrilling than your own culture.

Your own culture may be so rooted in your personality or character features that it lacks the allure or thrill to pique your interest in it. But don’t forget: even if your own culture is extremely known to you, there is still a lot to explore and experience in your own “backyard.” too.

Here are some things that inspire me and make me feel less terrible whenever I think about my interests in a foreign culture:

  • Don’t allow it to replace your own cultural values. Instead, search for cultural characteristics that might improve your life, such as their dedication to work or passion.
  • Make it an excuse to learn a new language. When I was 6, I went to an international school where we mostly spoke French, and when I was 18, I improved by watching French dramas, and when I was 25, I learned Russian by watching movies with subtitles, reading instructional books, and eventually hiring a tutor. This is useful since you may include it on your CV.
  • Increase your understanding of geography, geopolitics, history, and the economics. It will help you see opportunities where you previously could not, and it may put you on the path to being able to go there someday and be a useful member of their community.
  • Learn to be more accepting of different cultures as well. You are as weird to them as they are to you.
  • Consider what it is that draws you to their way of life and emulate its positive aspects in your own.
  • Analyze societal issues such as women’s treatment and rights, ethnocentrism, government corruption, and so on. There is plenty to be said about how common and where comparable problems might be found.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with an interest in another country or culture. The only issues arise when you allow it to take over your life to the point that you are unable to function in your own society, or when you have unreasonable expectations thinking you can actually BECOME French or Russian (unless, of course, you’re married to one and decides to migrate to another country, but that’s beside the point).

Have you ever been interested in foreign cultures? What effect has it had on your life? And how do I get a Russian name? Please let me know by leaving a comment below.

Polly Amora

Polly Amora is the general manager of a privately owned corporation in Manila, Philippines. She is a life-long learner who is extroverted to the extreme, knows four languages, is loud and outspoken, and enjoys adventure in the mountains, the beach, and the city. You can throw her wherever and she'll handle it like a pro. Her weaknesses include ice cream and beer.

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10 Comments

  1. I don’t think so at all! It makes your interests more interesting. I never knew about Gaspard, what a tragic end to a talented and beautiful man. RIP!

  2. risalopez says:

    I don’t think it is wrong to be obsessed with other countries culture. As long as you don’t forget where you came from, lol.

  3. Guilty as charged: I’ve travelled far more in other countries than where I am based. I’m often better informed on other countries. Also, I even travel to distant places to visit exhibition and miss those taking place around the corner from my house. Can it be that this is just some kind of ‘the other man’s grass’?!

  4. aisasami says:

    Wonderful tip. I have been in love with different since I was a little girl. I l have learned a lot and been to so many unique places.

  5. I don’t think there is anything to feel bad about here. Your culture will always be your culture but learning about the world around is always a good idea.

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