I would define culture as the beliefs, behaviors, and traditions set up by a certain group and shared from each generation.
Everyone comes from a different background and culture whether its a family culture, or culture based on where your from. I think when we are given the chance to experience someone elses culture we begin to be able to understand them on a better level. I once heard a quote that was something like, “You don’t know where someone is going, until you know where they’ve been.” I think this is a good example of why its important to understand somebody on a cultural level.
I was lucky enough to be able to attend BYU Hawaii for 6 months and the culture of it all was extremely different. I was attending school with people not only from America, but all over Europe, Asia, and some pacific islands. While there I lived in a dorm with a girl from Tonga and I was able to learn more about her culture, which was very different from my own. in our dorm we had a phone and this phone would ring at all hours of the night…While your trying to sleep this gets a little frustrating because not only would she answer it, but she would have a full on conversation at 4 in the morning sometimes. At first I let this go on for awhile because I didn’t want to seem rude, but after some time I finally mentioned to some other friends that my roommate talks and talks on the phone during the night. One of my good friends had taken a Tongan speaking class and in it she learned that not only was it rude to not answer your phone but it was very impolite if you did not have at least part of a conversation with the person who answered. I then began to understand that my roommate and I came from very different cultures and I would need to learn to just go with the flow. At one point tho when she was asleep I would unplug the phone line…needless to say I started sleeping better!