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By: Leo Hitchcock

Learning to Live in a Different Culture

Pages: 318 Ratings: 5.0
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Going to a foreign country and wondering how you will fit in or adapt to living there? This book will help you. Are you a recent arrival into a different cultural system and are facing difficulties? This book will help you. Want to know how (and why) to do things the way your friends and colleagues of a different culture do? This book will help you. Wondering why other cultures act so differently to yours? This book will tell you. Based on the actual experiences of long-term exchange student sojourners who have been in these situations, this book tells you how they overcame their difficulties. Tested against widely accepted theories and models, the author presents techniques – what to do and what not to do – on how the sojourners featured in this book may have adapted more easily and quickly, and offers his own experiential Cross-cultural Adaptation Process Model (eCAPM) as a tool to use on one’s cultural adaptation journey.

Now a consultant/advisor in the field of internationalisation of higher education and cultural adaptation, Dr Leo Hitchcock was formerly a Director of Collaborative Programmes for Auckland University of Technology, directing offshore degree programmes in Vietnam and China, and a senior lecturer teaching in New Zealand, Vietnam and China, and presenting at seminars in Indonesia as well as in other parts of the world. He holds a PhD and a Master of Education with Honours. His PhD dissertation is reflected in this book. Leo has been an AFS local chapter president and National Board member. His two daughters completed a one-year AFS Intercultural Programs exchange to Japan and Czechoslovakia/Slovakia, respectively; his family has hosted eight AFS students, as well as other shorter-term language students from a diverse range of countries, and he has visited and stayed with many of his ‘AFS children’ and other AFS friends and colleagues in their homes.


Ko Kaikōura ōku maunga, ko tāku moana, ko tāku kōhanga; ko Aotearoa tōku kāinga; tōku whānau me ōku hoa tōku kaha; tēnei mahi tōku waka. Mā ēnei mea katoa ahau e whakarite ko wai ahau.

Customer Reviews
5.0
2 reviews
2 reviews
  • Ann Göth

    They teach us many things in school, but the important topic of how to live in or with a different culture is often ignored. This is despite so many people now traveling to countries where they don’t quite know how to fit in or adapt to living there. And while most nations become more and more multicultural we need to know how and why people of different cultures act differently. Based on his year-long study of the actual adaptation experiences of exchange students living in a different culture, Leo Hitchcock presents different techniques that can help with such challenges.

  • Justine Readings

    As a long-term ex-pat, just about to embark on life in my fourth ‘foreign’ home, this book appealed to me as a fascinating account of learning through a love of difference. Based on a study of personal accounts from ‘sojourners’ (students and adults hosted long-term in a foreign country) Dr Leo Hitchcock goes through, in great detail, the stages of adaptation to living in a new community. He describes the journey of modifying and reshaping long-held personal understandings, a necessary process to make sense of different cultural values. Having experienced this myself, and all its emotional ups and downs, the book really resonated with me.

    While it follows the learning journey of travellers, this is not a travel book - it is a detailed research-based reference book which explores complex topics such as the layers of cultural dimensions and models of intercultural sensitivity, through the theories of phenomenography and symbolic interaction.

    The main content, and to my mind the ‘beauty’ of the book, is in the detailed account of the adaptation process, which Hitchcock has broken into 10 key components, each explored in-depth. The book includes sections on learning to build and adapt to differences in food rituals, different orientations to time and learning to cope with the stress of the constant need to go through this adaptation process. A significant portion of the book are direct quotes from the participants - and these tell impactful stories of learning. In the words of each participant, you can hear the deep reflection on self as they describe what has stood out to them as different or significant in their everyday lives as ‘foreigners' hosted in local families. Every conversation is a comparison, so when reflecting on what each speaker has chosen to focus on and compare, and what details to ignore, the values of the different cultures are highlighted.

    With so many people now living in a foreign country, or having to deal with people from other cultures on a daily basis, this book is timely and relevant. The detail Hitchcock has gone into gives much food for thought. It is a book you will want to linger through, taking time to pause and reflect on your own reactions to the stories and the analysis. Readers will be able to learn more about themselves as they become fully immersed in the learning of the sojourners.

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