‘As the soil, however rich it may be, cannot be productive without cultivation, so the mind without culture can never produce good fruit.’
Culture is a strange thing, that much I know. Having been abroad for a year and being abroad on Erasmus in Ireland at the moment, I come into contact with culture a lot, and not necessarily a new culture. Sometimes I learn more about my own culture when I’m abroad than when I’m at home, because I’m confronted with the differences between the culture of my host country and my own culture. Just know I realized in class that people from the same country can have a different view of ‘their’ culture, different interpretations. I know that people can be unaware of their culture, but I’m not sure if people can have no culture. Is unawareness of one’s culture the same as not having a culture? Because after all, if you’re not aware of your culture, than how can you formulate ideas and opinions about culture.
Seneca compares the cultivation of soil to the “culturalisation” (I know that is not a real word, but I don’t think I have to explain it) of the mind. Maybe he means that a person who is exposed to culture in general is ‘smarter’ than a person who doesn’t come into contact with culture knowingly. Awareness of a culture is harder than most of us think. Especially awareness of one’s own culture. And especially being fully aware of a culture. When I arrived in Paraguay, now almost four years ago, the first thing I noticed were all the difference. A different language, different habits, different food. But after a while, the language, habits and food become your own, and you notice other kinds of differences. Things that are rooted much deeper than the language. Beliefs, values, what is and what isn’t accepted. Those make up the core of a culture. And the minute you understand that, the minute those things hit you, you can honestly say “I know what this country, this culture is all about.” And that is the main goal of going a year abroad.
It took me a long time before I captured the essence of Paraguay. Or maybe not, maybe it just took me long time before realizing it. But the minute I was fully aware of what Paraguay was all about, I grew fonder of the country and the people living in it. I became much more concerned about what was happening and suddenly there was this urge, this drive in me to go back. Luckily for me, that will be the case in January!
Anyways, I’m getting of subject, so I think it’s time for me to end this post here 🙂
Hope it gave you some food for thought and don’t hesitate to leave a comment if you have something to say!