Cross-Cultural Communication: International Communication

International Communication: A Process of Discovery

by S.A. Mousalimas
Oxford University

Proceedings of the Conference on Inter-Cultural Communication
Mirny Polytechnic Institute and Sakha (Yakutsk) State University
Mirny, Sakha Republic (Yakutia)
27-28 April 2002

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3
(1) "Touristic" Phase, the initial phase

The initial phase is like that of a tourist, hence "touristic". Interaction with the local population is minimal. Excursions are usually pre-arranged by agents or hosts. The person is often accompanied, escorted. Accommodation and food are provided mostly in hotels or hostels or other temporary quarters for foreigners.

While the tourist is the clearest example, this phase is not exclusively theirs. Business people and politicians tend to remain at this level of experience despite the number of times that they may cross international boundaries. They do interact but with select representatives of the other nation. Even during business meetings or political negotiations that may become intense, the interaction is focused on pre-defined purposes and is mediated by agents.

Typically, a businessperson or a politician carries a pre-defined agenda, or purpose, which he or she will project deliberately over the meetings. A tourist does something similar, but indeliberately, subconsciously, projecting his or her own mentality (his or her own expectations and own preconceptions) onto the new experience.

Thus, the person assimilates the new, international, cross-cultural experience into his or her own mental categories. In this way, the person continues to live mentally in a world that is known, even predictable. The foreign appears to be more-or-less familiar. The unknown appears to be more-or-less known.

This projection, of one's own mentality onto the new experience, can occur even when one speaks the same language as the local population or a variation of the same language. When a common language exists, one may be lulled even more-so into an illusion that the mentality is the same. One may naïvely presume that common words will convey the same meanings. Often, common words do. At times, however, they do not. Differences in meaning, and thus the differences in mentality, are not recognized so easily.

In contrast, in a nation that speaks a different language, one will hear a foreign language spoken, one will see a foreign language written, and one will receive many constant, immediate reminders that the mentality is alien to one's own. When variations of the same language are spoken, an illusion of "sameness" may be projected, more-or-less, over the differences.

Whether the language is common or foreign, the same propensity exists during this initial phase: It is the propensity to project one's own mentality over the existing reality. Therefore, one's own worldview is not upset during this phase, or it is not upset too very much.

Thus, the initial phase is characterized by these elements among other elements:

The experience can be enriching, nevertheless. There is very much to be learned in this initial phase. There is much to be gained by a person for a greater awareness of another nation even during the tourist phase. One learns about other places and other nations even now.

This is valuable for the tourist, who does gain a wider spectrum of awareness just by taking the tours. It can be useful for the businessperson or politician, who should obtain at least some experience towards some proficiency among other people. It is the starting point for the sojourner or settler.

Continue to Phase 2: Culture Shock


Citation Guidelines for this Page

Mousalimas, S.A., "International Communication: a Process of Discovery", page 2, Cross-Cultural Communication: International Communication, Proceedings of the Mirny Regional Scientific-Practical Conference on Inter-Cultural Communication: Issues of Politics, History, Language and Literature (27-28 April 2002), Mirny Polytechnic Institute and Sakha (Yakutsk) State University, edited by S.A. Mousalimas, 2002, available at http://www.OxfordU.net/mirny/2002/mousalimas02.html.


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