SGPsychStud: Why Do We Adjust To New Cultures

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I just returned from my overseas trip in a Western country.  The above picture is taken from a very high building in that city that I was in.  During my short holiday trip in that country, I was constantly adjusting myself towards their culture, behaviour, and norms.  This was relatively easy for me as I have been in the country for several years previously;  however, it was difficult for my other family members who have only been there for holidays.  Halfway through the holiday, it got me thinking:
Why am I adjusting to this new culture, resulting in me behaving differently from as in Singapore?
This modification of behaviour is called 'cultural assimilation', where a person or a minority culture gradually adopts new behaviours, attitudes, and languages from that of the host or majority culture.  In my case, I was slowly experiencing cultural assimilation where my experience and exposure in that country has affected me to change; but this may not be the case for my family members.
For more information on culture assimilation please visit:

But why am I doing it?
Image from WikiMedia Commons:
My guess is that it could be somewhat related to Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Physiological:  Being in a foreign country, having or obtaining the basic necessities, such as food, water, shelter, are very necessary.  This resulted in making sure that we know the language, their cultural norms in terms of food and dining, as well as being well prepared in term of arranging for accommodation.  

Safety:  Though travelling overseas in a group (e.g. with family members) is generally safer than travelling alone,  it is still up to the individual to make sure that personal security and well-being is not compromised.
We had a road-trip in the rural areas for four days, and hence making sure we stay and move together for safety reasons.  Having knowledge of details, such as what time the sun sets and other travel conditions, is important too as we need to be aware of what may happen during the road-trip.
My dad did something unknowingly that I had tell him off, as it compromised his safety.  As an elderly man with grandchildren, playing with young kids and joking with them in Singapore is something that he does quite often.  However, during our trip, he told some young kids (of about 3 to 5 years old):  "Come with Uncle..." in front of the children's parents.  Though we knew that he meant no harm, it could be perceived by the parents that he is trying to kidnap their children.  Hence for his safety, I had to tell him to stop doing that.    

Love/Belonging:  This may not be a big issue, as my family were with me, and hence there was a high level of love.  Though it is only a holiday, I do have some attachment towards the country having stayed there for a few years.  Unavoidably, I do have some form of belonging and attachment towards the country and city, which did (sometimes during the trip) led me to consider whether I should migrate there.

Esteem:  Although we are in a foreign Western country, the city has been accepting students and immigrants from different countries, hence it is not uncommon to see a lot of Asian people there.  Being Singaporean and of Chinese descent, it is quite unavoidable that we are seen as the same as those from China, Hongkong, Japan, Vietnam, and other Asian countries.
My parents unconsciously keep speaking in Chinese (though not very fluent in it) for two reasons: a) Convenience of understanding each other, and b) Not to let the locals understand us.  I had to explain to them that "They (the locals) all look the same to you; We also look the same as those from China to them, especially if you speak in Mandarin.".  Perhaps speaking in English there allowed me to have a higher sense of self-esteem that I am different and able to assimilate and localise into their environment, and not just a plain old tourist from Asia.

Self-actualisation:  This may not be very relevant to the question, but considering it as a Singaporean, it do answers it in some way.  Living and growing up in this multicultural Singapore,  there is a high tendency that we are able to adapt and adjust ourselves to others of different cultures, and this is a Singaporean ability that we take great pride in.  To truly be ourselves in a foreign country is a difficult thing to do, and only by bringing in our "leh, lah, lor" once in a while, by looking for our chicken rice or char kway tiao in the restaurants, by showing our kiasuism characteristics, by proudly say that we are from Singapore the small red dot, that is probably truly being who we are as Singaporeans.

So why do I adjust to that new culture in the foreign country?  
It was due to Maslow's hierarchy of needs and being the true-blue Singaporean in me!