How to Learn About a New Friend’s Culture

Let’s say you’ve just met a young woman named Francine at English class, and you learn that she is from Burundi. You enjoy chatting with her and want to pursue a friendship in the coming weeks, but first you want to learn more about her culture to know how to do so in a culturally sensitive way. Where do you go?

Well, friends, I have a gold mine for you–a holy trinity of stellar websites for learning about other cultures. The best place to start is globalEDGE, which is subtitled “your source for global business knowledge.”

You can view a variety of stats and facts right there on the site, but also go further and click on the “culture” tab on the left of any culture description, and you’ll get links to two other websites:

  1. Center for Intercultural Learning: A truly amazing directory of in-depth answers to cultural questions, such as “I am meeting someone for the first time and I want to make a good impression. What would be good discussion topics?” These answers come from BOTH a local’s (for example, a Burundian’s) perspective and a Westerner’s (Canadian’s) perspective. This is my favorite of the three.
  2. Culture Crossing Guide: A community sourced, intensely practical list of  tips for interacting with people from every country of the world. Less nuanced since it seems to come mostly from the perspective of people who have visited these countries (rather than locals), but quite helpful, especially if you’re short on time.

With these three websites bookmarked, you’ll have all the information you need to feel more comfortable moving forward in friendship with Francine from Burundi, or with any other new international friend!

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