Leaving one specific way of life then changing to another can be quite a culture shock
In this segment, we will be discussing some of the different traditions between two countries – America and Mexico. If you eat steak and potatoes every night for dinner and suddenly change to enchiladas and chips, your stomach will have to adjust. This also applies to your mental thinking, daily habits and personal mannerisms.
Learning a different way of life doesn’t have to be something you adapt to immediately. It is actually kind of exciting to see how the other part of the world lives. We would like to point out a few obvious cultural differences that will help you blend into a new environment a little easier. Let’s address some of the basics starting with food, family, worldly possessions and careers.
Mexican cuisine is a culture all its own
There is quite a bit of difference to what we eat in North America. The Mexican people love their spicy food! They have their own blend of spices that you can only find in Mexico. First timers to the country have no idea that there really isn’t a “hard shell taco” as they know it at home. Mexico’s “traditional” taco consist of a selected meat combined with other regional topping stacked on a soft flour or corn tortilla and served open face.
Most of Mexico’s traditional dishes consist of fish, pork and chicken cooked in various spices served with rice and beans. Instead of serving meals with bread, Mexicans place a basket of warm tortillas on the table as a side item. They usually use tortillas for scooping, wrapping food or just to eat them plain. If a soup is served, tortillas are dunked just like a piece of bread that savors to the taste.
True Mexican sauces are prepared differently than what you have experienced in America. Besides the typical red chili sauce, there are several varieties that include Salsa cruda (raw sauce), Salsa verde (green), Salsa Negra (black sauce), and Mole’ (chilies mixed with unsweetened chocolate & almonds) to mention just a few. However, if you approach these delicious toppings that coat your favorite Mexican dishes, make sure you ease your digestive system into them. It will take some time to adjust.
Families act as a collective unit in Mexico
They work more as a nucleus instead of individual partisan unit. Everyone including the extended family sits down together and enjoys each other’s company. The only exception to the tradition is when the father has to work late. Besides that, Mexicans spend most nights with family at home. The women usually stays home and cooks the meal and tends to the children. However, this long standing tradition is being threatened in the younger generations who are influence by modern trends.
When you spend a Sunday in the city park or on the beach, you will notice that it will be mostly families. Mexicans consider Sundays as “Dia de diversion familiar” – which simply translates to family fun day. This is when mom, dad, kids and many immediate family members all get together. They will bring food, beverages, music, chairs and set up camp for the day. They will laugh, talk about their past week, and play with the children. A lot more societies need to start practicing this tradition!
Having the latest in-vogue car, flat screen TV or electronic gadgets isn’t always a priority
There are several reasons for this, but the most predominant one is that a typical family doesn’t always want to spend their hard earned money on such foolish items. Most families do have a flat screen TV and a cell phone, but are devices of past technology without all the bells and whistles. What Americans think they need to be trendy or fashionably, isn’t always a necessity in the Mexican culture.
Having a car requires added expense to the middle class. When a family and/or individual decides to buy a vehicle, they use it more for practical reasons than a status symbol. The Mexican people are more reserved and spend their money on family needs. They have had to survive some rough times and are very educated when it comes to buying for need versus pleasure. Too bad more people don’t practice this thought process.
Having a job or better yet a career is a privilege and not an expected rite of passage
If your father’s father was a carpenter, and he too is a carpenter, then the probability will be that his son will follow in his footsteps. However, this particular tradition is also changing as economic growth and development spreads throughout the country. Unlike America where people think that “The Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”, Mexico’s employed rarely job hop. They stay with their jobs as long as they can.
Unlike in the United States, there are no unemployment benefits, welfare and/or income subsidies. The Mexican people are survivalist who work very hard to make their monthly obligations.
The fore mentioned traditions will help you understand the Mexican people and their way of life. You need to realize that there are many differences between the two cultures. They expect nothing for free, but deserve respect. They group together as a family and share their resources. There is no mine or yours, but ours. Mexico’s history is deep in cultural traditions that are passed down through generations. What North Americans sometimes see as unorthodox, can in fact be a valued quality in their everyday lives.
Relocating to a foreign country that inherently lives by centuries old traditions can create an uncertainty of fear or what I call culture shock. There is a lot you can learn from the Mexican people. Instead of maintaining a mindset that nothing can be as perfect to where you were living before, think about adapting to a new life style that empowers you to experience things you never thought to practice.
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