Cultural Dissonance Essay Example

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Cultural differences are inevitable in the current world. People travel to different countries, which embrace different cultures from the later hence, leading to discomfort to the visiting party. Such kind of discomfort is referred to as cultural dissonance. Individuals affected by such discomfort find it hard to negotiate because the causes are unexplained. In this essay, I would refer to cultural dissonance based on how I have experienced it in the past (Hofstede, 2013). It will also refer to Hofstede national culture dimensions.

Cultural dissonance results from cultural differences that cannot be explained hence do not leave room for the affected person to negotiate. It may affect performance especially to students who join universities and other learning institutions in the world. According to Michael Allan (2002), cultural dissonance is used to refer to an experience based on divergences in various cultural attributes and kind of disharmony when it comes to cultural interactions. Attempts to address issues relating to cultural differences are usually distressing to the party involved hence; many hindrances accompany dissonance. Having come from China; a country with different cultures, to study at a university in a different country altogether; Australia, I braced myself for the effects of cultural diversity. Latrobe University admits students from all lifestyles hence the possibility of experiencing diverse cultures. I have experienced cultural dissonance incidences while taking on my course at the university. I can attribute all these to the people we interacted with in entire process (Hofstede, 2013).

According to Hofstede’s model, five cultural dimensions are in line to elucidate national culture. They include masculinity versus femininity (gender), power distance, weak versus strong uncertainty avoidance, collectivism versus individualism, and attitude directed to time. Power distance is a concept that is used to determine an individual level of disparity in society. It is based on the distribution of power, which is usually not evenly in many cultures. Some countries are known to have higher power distance while others are of low (Hofstede, 2013). According to Hofstede, large power distance countries treat their teachers with more decency. However, when I joined Latrobe University, teachers were less respected as compared to in China. In this case, learning was student focused as compared to China where it was teacher oriented. It was uncomfortable learning in such an environment. The students were also encouraged to dig deeper to satisfy their thirsty for knowledge. Hosfede argued that large power distance countries had teachers to be solely depended on as far as learning was concerned. I had to be acculturated to catch up with such a system. In China, which is a large power distance country, the learning process is solely dependent on teachers. It, therefore, meant that I had to work extra hard to put up impressive grades. I learnt to be self-driven to achieve the best (Hofstede, 2013).

Power distance in classrooms’ context can be attributed to differences in language differences. China, being an art oriented education system needed a teacher to direct the learners on writings while, in Australia, there is a need to master alphabets hence less participation of teachers was called for. The cultural dissonance that I faced in such a case was difficult to solve because I had no power to change the entire Australian education system. I just had to be acculturated (Hofstede, 2013).

Gender dimension also contributed to discomfort because there were many differences between how women were viewed in China and Australia. It can be explained by Hofstede’s masculinity versus femininity dimension. Being a woman, I was shocked to see how women are viewed as less privileged in society while they were entitled to lesser powers. I expected to be integrated into the system as one of the active members. This brought about disharmony that I could not prevent. Most of the discussion groups nominated male leaders to direct many crucial activities and management of the groups. Ladies were just meant to be followers. Such a scene was quite despicable. The system in Latrobe University put up measures to avert the situation although they could not entirely curb it. I worked hard to be part of such kind of society for the sake of my results. I learnt that cultures were diverse hence; the faster one acculturates, the better. It is important for institutions to embrace all cultures that are represented in any of its learning institutions for better results (Choi and Harachi, 2008).

It takes a large amount of dedication for anyone to is acculturated, more so for students who moved to other countries. Individualism is another aspect that can be seen according to Hofstede’s model. This can be referred to a degree in which individuals are assimilated to different groups. There are societies, which do not uphold the ties between individuals at all while others make sure that such ties are strengthened from birth to adulthood (Hofstede, 2013).

Being in Latrobe University; I was away from my family, it was difficult to assimilate to a new family of students drawn from all parts of the world. They were strangers to me. In this case, it was difficult to join hands with them to facilitate many activities. To avert this situation of cultural dissonance, I had to cultivate my social skills and make as many friends as possible. However, the main challenge to this was that not all of them had the qualities that I had been looking for. Culturally relevant materials that had been introduced by the University helped me to understand and acculturate in style (Dorfman and Howell, 1988).


Cultural dissonance is a kind of disharmony that results to cultural differences, which are usually known to be unexplained causes. An attempt to address such issues is futile due to the nature of the causes. Studying at Latrobe University was accompanied by incidences of cultural dissonance because of different learning cultures compared the one of my home country; China. Cultural dimensions that explained such cultural dissonance include power distance, individualism, and gender dimensions, based on Hofstede’s model. I learnt to appreciate host country’s culture to be acculturated.


Choi, Y., He, M. and Harachi, T.W., 2008. Intergenerational cultural dissonance, parent–child conflict and bonding, and youth problem behaviors among Vietnamese and Cambodian immigrant families. Journal of youth and adolescence37(1), pp.85-96.

Dorfman, P.W. and Howell, J.P., 1988. Dimensions of National Culture & Effective Leadership Patterns: Hofstede revisited. In Advances in international comparative management: A research annual (pp. 127-149).

Hofstede, G., 2013. Dimensions of national cultures.