In an article that I recently read titled 17 Things that Change forever when you live Abroad, in the 9th point with the heading “NORMAL? WHAT’S NORMAL?” the writer wrote, “Living abroad, like traveling, makes you realize that ‘normal’ only means socially or culturally accepted. When you plunge into a different culture and a different society, your notion of normality soon falls apart. You learn there are other ways of doing things, and after a while, you too take to that habit you never thought you would embrace. You also get to know yourself a little better, because you discover that some things you really believe in, while others are just a cultural heritage of the society you grew in[i]”. I couldn’t agree more with the blogger.
When you arrive in France, you quickly realise that it is not only the language that is different, but the lifestyle too. The general belief is that one is in a modernized country and should change as the popular saying: when you are in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Indeed, there are norms that you may need to change. There may be things you have done in a particular way for several years due to the environment you were raised in. When you see people do such things in a different way and get a better result, you will need to change your norms about them. I, for example, have learnt a better way of doing a number of things here and have changed my perception of normality concerning these things.
However, there are values you need to keep inspite of the society that wants you to change them. I have come to realise that no matter how the society paints a wrong act to make it look ‘normal’, the consequences remain the same. So, one must take a stand and reject any wrong values.
As a Christian whose norms are based on bible’s precepts, the question I ask myself when I am faced with something that deviates from my norms is what does the bible say about this? It has helped me in many ways, as I use the word of God to test any norms the society wants me to conform to. You may not be a Christian, but you can discern what is good and not good for you. You only need to look at the future effects of the society’s norm you are about to embrace and see if they will be positive or negative.
[i] 17 things that change forever when you live abroad. http://masedimburgo.com/2014/06/04/17-things-change-forever-live-abroad/