Cultural Assimilation

Every little detail in your daily life combines together to form the fabric of your reality. No matter how small or insignificant, it is the tiny events, places, peoples, norms, and culture that define what it feels like to live where you live.

When I travel, I do my best observe the fabric of other peoples lives with he goal to assimilate as much as possible into it. I do my best to get a good understanding of what it means to be Japanese, Vietnamese, or Polish.

As a result, when travelling to a new place I notice myself going through typical cycle. First I am the odd shape out, the circle in amongst the triangles. Then society bounces me back and forth, slowing shaping me bit by bit.

Eventually one day I wake up and I'm not a perfect blue triangle, but I'm a lot closer to it than when I started. Close enough that I don't get bounced around as much anymore. My behaviour has changed, but also my expectations of other people's behaviour.

But then I pack up and move to another country. The behaviours that I got adjusted to are no longer the norms, the triangle that took so long to become, has now been thrown in amongst some very different shapes.

So society starts bumping me back and forth again, in the hopes that one day I fit the new mould a little closer.

All this bumping back and forth made me realise something. We think of our behaviours and personal traits as expressions of our "self", but after feeling the effects of different societies shaping you this way and that, it becomes extremely apparent that this isn't the case. Most of our behaviours, views, and traits are directly attributable to the society that we live in.

When looking at other people I find it blaringly obvious to see which of their traits are a direct shaping from the culture they live in. However, when you look at yourself and try to identify the same biases, it becomes much more difficult to see it clearly.


Sebastian Kade, Founder of Sumry and Author of Living Happiness, is a software designer and full-stack engineer. He writes thought-provoking articles every now and then on

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