I’ve spent this morning reading “Monochronic and Polychronic Time” by Edward Hall and “Culture Blends” by Agar (a person, not the gelatinous substance used in food and to grow bacterial cultures). These two articles have given me reason to think about how life will be while living in India.
First, I’ll discuss the article by Hall. His main points were that there are two different ways to deal with time, monochronic (m-time) and polychronic (p-time). M-time depends on strict schedules that we can’t deviate from while p-time is more flexible and can be changed if a friend/loved one needs our help. p-time also focuses on being able to do more than one thing at once. In the article, Hall made the interesting statement that m-time was more masculine while p-time was more feminine with the reasoning that mothers often have to do many things all at the same time.
While I was reading this article, I tried to figure out what kind of time manager I am. I decided that I like m-time because it is more structured, but I also apply p-time because I try to do more than one thing at a time and if a friend needs my help I will cancel my schedule to help them. Another important thought I had was that I need to figure out what kind of time managers Tibetans are. From my previous exposure to them at a party, I think they lean more towards p-time. I say this because the party I went to started at 3:00 so my friends and I arrived promptly on time. When we got there a nice Tibetan lady who was setting up laughed a little at our American ways and said that no one else would be there for another hour because they were on “Tibetan time”. Sure enough, everyone else got there an hour later and we started even later, at 4:30. If I’m going to be living with a Tibetan family I’m going to need to learn more about this “Tibetan time” so that I can act accordingly.
Next, Agar’s article dealt with the differences in language. Not just between two different languages, but inside one language. He told many stories of confusion he’s had with friends when they were both speaking English. I believe this is going to be a stumbling block for me in India. I think I speak good English, but are my communication skills good enough to speak with someone that speaks a different kind of English? Tibetans learn English in school, but is it a form of English I can relate too?
Agar also discusses the importance of learning about another culture in order to communicate with that culture’s people better. He emphasizes that culture is “what happens to you when you encounter differences, become aware of something in yourself, and work to figure out why the differences appeared.” He also states that you start learning that there is something wrong with you and that is why you can’t communicate. That is when you learn to change who you are and how you think in order to communicate better. I think this needs to happen to me. I’ve lived in America my whole life and I don’t know much about other cultures. I’m trying to learn as much as I can about other cultures, but considering I don’t have a standing place in other cultures I can only learn from observing from the outside. I’m hoping that I can learn a lot while living with a Tibetan family. It may be hard to change my outlook on the world, but I think it will benefit me immensely in more ways than one. And if I can change my cultural outlook then perhaps I will be able to communicate with the Tibetan people more effectively.