Cultural Intelligence: the importance of changing perspectives

Zambria 2019

Two boys in Bombwe, Zambia (Unsplash, 2018)

This article was exclusively written for the The European Sting by Ms. Giorgia Soldà, newly graduated doctor from Turin, Italy. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Julie is a 22 years old medical student, she comes from Germany. She is spending her practical year in Zambia, at a local hospital. When she first arrives, she immediately falls in love with the country: the neighbours are welcoming and cheerful, her tutor helpful and the landscapes amazing.

But after few weeks she starts feeling homesick: she doesn’t know what to do at nights, the power often goes out and then she cannot even use her laptop. She often feels sick and has to spend few days at home to recover. Sometimes she wishes she was home spending her holidays with friends.

After a while she starts feeling better again and goes back to the hospital, she already learnt some basic words to communicate with the patients so that her tutor doesn’t need to translate everything; he even invites her to have dinner with his family few times. They find themselves speaking about the most different topics and eventually become very good friends.

It is already six months Julie has been in Zambia and she is finally starting to feel like home: she knows the best places to get the most delicious nshima and got new friends.

What Julie went through are the phases of what is called the cultural shock: honeymoon, at the very beginning, negotiation, when the differences with her previous life started to make her uncomfortable, adjustment, when she tried to compromise, and adaptation, when she finally settled in. They were not easy steps, but necessary. This process is characterized by peculiar symptoms: anxiety, boredom, withdrawal, irritability and more.

It is something that million of people experience everyday: people moving to other countries to work, to study, to escape from conflicts or to reunite with their families, but not all of them have the motivation or abilities to react and integrate as Julie did.  However, there is something everyone can do to help these people going through this process.

Julie made it successfully because she was involved in an environment where people were including her, talking to her; they wanted to know her, see her point of view, discuss together about their cultures and values, so different at first sight, but so similar when they got to speak about the deepest things.

She had the courage to go, change her life and routine, eventually she changed her perspective. When she went back home everything felt different, she was different. When she had her Italian Erasmus friends over for dinner telling her that they could not get used to German food or weather, she knew exactly what they were feeling.

This is what cultural intelligence is about, being able to relate and work with people and situations culturally diverse. You don’t need to fly thousand of kilometers away to get it, but for sure, in our globalized world, it is not an option to develop such skills. We need to be open, flexible, understanding, empathic. Change perspective, build a better future, create a cultural intelligent society.

About the author

Giorgia Soldà, newly graduated doctor from Turin, Italy. She considers herself a “citizen of the world” and she has been part of IFMSA since 2013, for the Professional Exchange standing committee. She is passionate about intercultural learning, cross-cultural communication and global health. Loves traveling and learning about other cultures and ways of thinking. She dreams about working in the global health field to contribute to the development of better health standards for all the people in the world.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Light at the end of the Eurozone tunnel

How and why Mercedes fakes the EU fuel consumption tests

Challenges remain in DPRK despite ‘slight’ improvements in health, wellbeing: UNICEF

Economic recovery won’t tackle youth unemployment problem

The role of public affairs in student NGOs

Two women threaten to tear the world apart

Can big events really go plastic-free? A water capsule made from seaweed may be the answer

Satellites and data are going to help us phase out fossil fuels. Here’s how

A day that Berlin and Brussels would remember for a long time

Russia and the West to partition Ukraine?

Youth policy in Europe not delivering for young people

Don’t compare data to oil – digitization needs a new mindset

Yemen parties underscore ‘strong desire’ for peace, UN Envoy reports

Baku forum to push back against ‘rise of hate’ with strong call for cultural and religious tolerance, says UN official

Is Germany yielding to pressures for more relaxed economic policies?

This is our chance to completely redefine the meaning of work

Earthquake: Monte Dei Paschi Di Siena

FROM THE FIELD: One teen’s journey from refugee camp to US school principal

How to end overfishing in the global South

MWC 2016 LIVE: CEOs issue rallying call to drive ‘gigabit economy’

Varna (Bulgaria) awarded European Youth Capital 2017

South Korea once recycled 2% of its food waste. Now it recycles 95%

The new Kiev rulers ask $35 billion from the West

Key Brazilian border crossing for Venezuela refugees reopens as asylum numbers pass last year’s total

The EU Consumer Policy on the Digital Market: A Behavioral Economics View

UN chief appeals for calm as Mali presidential election draws to a close

These coastal countries are sinking the fastest

This project in India helps people and tigers co-exist peacefully

Who is to lose from the 6-month extension of the EU economic sanctions against Russia?

Main results of Environment Council of 09 October 2018

Companies can help build a more inclusive world. Here’s how

Philippe de Backer of ALDE at European Business Summit 2015 stresses: “Reinvent your business”

A Sting Exclusive: “Regional Policy: a fully-fledged investment policy”, Commissioner Cretu reveals live from European Business Summit 2015

Yemen: Major UN aid boost for ‘up to 14 million’ as country risks becoming a land of ‘living ghosts’

Internet of Things: a Force for Good or Evil?

Rule of Law: The Commission opens a debate to strengthen the rule of law in the EU

Increasingly under attack, women human rights defenders need better back up

Half the world’s refugee children not in school, UN agency finds

A Sting Exclusive: “Junior Enterprises themselves carry out projects focusing on the environment”, JADE President Daniela Runchi highlights from Brussels

Europe’s poor investment in digital is threatening prosperity. Here’s what its start-ups need

This AI is working with a fleet of drones to help us fight ocean plastic

Corruption In The Balkans Is Impeding EU Membership

The West castigates Turkey’s Erdogan for the ruthless political cleansing

GDPR and the World Cup have these 4 things in common

Data is the oil of the digital world. What if tech giants had to buy it from us?

Iran: UN rights chief ‘deeply disturbed’ by continuing executions of juvenile offenders

MEPs back measures to reconcile career and private life

Brexit kick-off: a historic day for the EU anticlockwise

First-ever World Braille Day underscores importance of written language for human rights

Work to make the world a better place: 5 things you need to know about ‘green jobs’

The European Sting live from the World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

This mobile laundry gives homeless people free showers and washes their clothes

Here’s how to make ‘value-based healthcare’ a reality

‘InvestEU’ programme: big boost for jobs, growth and investment

LED lights could stop turtles and birds from drowning in fishing nets

Traditional knowledge at ‘core’ of indigenous heritage, and ‘must be protected’, says UN Forum

This is the state of the world’s health, in numbers

Trade war or not New York bankers will have it their way

A new crop of EU ‘Boards’ override the democratic accountability and undermine the EU project

Further reforms will promote a stronger and more inclusive Hungarian economy

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s