Cultural Dissonance Essay Example

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In the current world, cultural dynamics and differences are inevitable. Visitors from different countries travel and hence embracing a different cultural environment that leads to discomfort among the visiting party. The discomfort obtained due to cultural changes is referred to as dissonance (Drennan & Van Bockern 2012, p. 26). In most cases, the individuals affected by cultural discomfort are unable to negotiate with other people due to cultural difference. In this reflective essay, I would consider referring cultural dissonance on the basis of how I experienced in the past. This reflective study seeks to elaborate cultural dissonance through exploring values and dimensions resulting in dissonance. Furthermore, the study would provide an essential guideline I applied in overcoming cultural dissonance. Therefore, the reflective study provides analysis, experience and how to overcome cultural dissonance.

Cultural dissonance referrers to uncomfortable discord sense, confusion state, disharmony or even the conflict experience a person undergoes when in the midst of cultural environment changes. The cultural changes tend to be unexpected and cannot be explained or even not understandable based on the cultural dynamics (LaRocque 2013, p. 114). Cultural dissonance is explained as a phenomenon present when an individual participates in various multiple cultures leading to a conflict of cultural interests. The situation of cultural discord sense is perceived when one is in conflicts between cultural rules. The cultural value clash also contributes to cultural dissonance and hence making it difficult to an individual in making an informed decision.

Cultural dissonance is as a result of cultural differences and cannot be explained and hence no room for negotiation among the affected individuals. It is evident to students joining international universities and other higher learning institutions as it affects their performances. According to LaRocque (2013), cultural dissonance contributes to experience based on differences and divergences of cultural values and attributes leading to disharmony during cultural interactions. In addressing the cultural difference is a distressing issue, especially to the party involved as many hindrances accompany to cultural dissonance. Being an international student from a country with different cultural values and studying at an international university, I embraced impacts of cultural diversity. The International University admits students from all lifestyles leading to diversification of cultural values and understanding. In my case, I experienced cultural dissonance from all aspects of life from taking my course, integrating with other students and general exposure to external environment surrounding university compound.

I encountered the different phenomenon of cultural dissonance on the daily basis as my cultural value clashed with the other student’s culture. Ethically, spiritually, traditionally and the level of identity is among the cultural values that did not compliment to other international students. Fashion, dressing code and entertainment expressed clear difference among the students. During my first year in university, I also encountered a scenario when I went shopping in a certain supermarket. I was looking for a certain specific ingredient and asked the sales assistant. The sales assistant called for help as he could not understand my English accent. The supermarket manager came to help and Iwas amused as he could not understand my explanation and became hostile to me. He replied I should learn English that they should understand. The response I obtained was hurting as she responded loudly attracting the attention of other shoppers. I felt insulted for being confronted in front of other people. The difference in an English accent basing on personal background and cultural diversity brought challenges in communication. The cultural foundation helps in shaping the values and understanding that are different from one region to another. Therefore, communication is a challenge here due to the regional difference even if we are using similar language.

Being in a cosmopolitan city, I encountered a different ethnocentric person and it helped me not to judge another culture based my cultural values. It is important to understand the other students’ point of view and hence I choose to remain neutral in terms of ethnocentrism. I understand in the globalized world, cultural challenges are more diverse and hence it requires being open to accommodate the changes. Moving towards greater cultural complexity leads to cultural interaction. This encourages in working toward positive continuous development in addressing the cultural complexity to understand emerging issues better. With the help of my university, the effort of bridging the cultural gap was realized through integration of cultural program to enlighten the student of integration and coexistence (Huu Tuan & Navrud 2009, p. 332). The ethnic studies course was very helpful in overcoming cultural dissonance as students we discussed cultural patterns. Furthermore, I took field trips in the university neighborhood to understand the community. With other students, we visited the restaurants to understand the wide range of foods, especially from other communities. I took the initiative of visiting cultural museums to relate different cultural backgrounds and diversity. These practices helped in overcoming cultural dissonance through appreciating and noticing good food, music and other exploration from different cultural perspectives. I learned more about other cultural diversity and rich knowledge behind different cultural values. Bridging the cultural gaps is the beginning of exploration and exposure to greater understanding, coexistences, and diversity in terms of regional, moral ethics, and values concepts.

In conclusion, culture dissonance is a complex issue relating to discomfort, discord, and disharmony due to cultural differences. Regional, moral ethics and values differences are the basis of cultural dissonance as they are inconsistent from diverse backgrounds. International students tend to face cultural challenges due to difference encountered in an international university. Ethnic studies and programs are important in bridging the cultural gap to ensure interactive sessions to enlighten student on cultural diversity and opportunities exposures. I learned to appreciate other cultural value diversity as they help to improve my understanding. Therefore, difference in cultural value provides diversity in understanding other community, culture and how one should react to overcome cultural dissonance.


Drennan, S., & Van Bockern, S. (2012). Searching for Resolution in Cultural Dissonance. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 2(3), 23-26.

Huu Tuan, T., & Navrud, S. (2009). Applying the dissonance-minimising format to value cultural heritage in developing countries. Australian Journal of Agricultural & Resource Economics. Vol. 53 Issue 3, 327-343.

LaRocque, M. (2013). Addressing Cultural and Linguistic Dissonance between Parents and Schools. Preventing School Failure. Vol. 57 Issue 2, 111-117.