Going abroad! A brief guide for exchange-students with a focus on communication

Seminar Paper, 2011

11 Pages, Grade: 1,3



"Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled."

- Mohammed[1]

Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit.

- Jawaharlal Nehru[2]

Even though some of the above mentioned personalties caused inter-cultural disputes, it must be admitted, that the quotes do hit the bull's eye.

Travelling and the with this connected insight in different cultural spheres do have a immense impact on behaviour, experience and acting[3] and these as basic pillars of psychology shapes, whether you like or not your way of communication.

This paper will look on time related values such as Poly- and Monochronicity as well as the time sense in different cultures in general.

The topic will be described and elucidated with the help of personal experiences which I gathered during my studies abroad so far.


inter cultural experience/ personal experienceMonochronic/ Polychronic/ time perceptionSouth-Central Europe / East Asia


In the context of my studies I participate in a university program called “GSIK[4] ” (abbreviation for German: Global systems and inter-cultural competence) as well as exchange with partner universities for semesters abroad all over the world.

By now I was allowed to experience a South-Central European cultural sphere by studying in Padua, Italy[5] as well as in a East Asian cultural society with my studies at the Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan right now.

The sharp contrast of these two unique areas with all its stereotypes, prejudices and expectations rearranged my own perception on my "typical" German behaviour. In fact, I rather was more often identified with the southern style of cognition then my home country ones.


A day has 24 hours, one of these hours consists of 60 minutes and one minute is 60 seconds. Almost all cultures but by a somewhat paradoxical contrast the feeling about the length of one of this standardized unites differs largely, just like the importance of the measurement.

It is unquestionable that in a high developed and specialized world like ours, where every gear is running just because it can rely on the other to work too, the time is the factor which initializes the framework of the whole process.


Just Imagine what would happen if we would go to university classes according to the position of the sun. "Impossible!" will some cultures say, "performable!" others.

Alongside with the sense of time, Monochronic or Polychronic backgrounds are the part, hidden under water of the “cultural iceberg”.

However, let us define these two terms first.

The book “Intercultural communication: a reader” suggests that, Polychronic individuals do "many things simultaneously, are more concerned with people and the present moment than with schedules, and believe that they are command of time rather then controlled by it."[6]

Opposed to this “cultures that operate near the M-time[7] end of time scale, such as those found in North America and northern Europe, reflects traits that are Monochronic. these cultures organize their lives around time by relying heavily on time keeping instruments like clocks, calenders, computers, and cell-phone reminders. the emphasize schedules the segmentation of time, and promptness.”[8]

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Image: {Storti 1999 #8}


It is fairly simple to categorize two of my experiences, by which I mean the countries Italy and Germany.

Of course Germany is together with other Northern European nations one of the most Monochronic cultures worldwide. In a certain sense I would even say we are too much linear and time orientated with personal communication and concerns often left behind.

Nevertheless, the more you move south and thereby to the Italian Peninsula, a alternate cultural society flourishes which is far more Polychronic coloured then many other western regions. Notwithstanding the fact I mentioned above -that there is a need of Monochronic culture to keep the nowadays structured and globalized system alive- the majority of the people is still “more concerned with people and the present moment than with schedules’[9], and soam I.

Let me deepen this with a simple example of a situation which occurred quite often. While in Germany the date of a presentation at university is a very fix thing and a change will cause a considerable process of organization, the same task is much easier to accomplish in Italy. You just had to contact your teacher and explain him the situation.

To bring this down to a even more personal level, I frequently come late to appointments and even though I know that this is very impolite in a Monochronic culture, this unintentionally happens to me now and then, because I just did to many things at once and ran out of time, yet it never was a big deal if you just contacted the other people or if you did not the opportunity, they never saw the time they waited as “lost” orwasted- certainly under the condition that they are settled in Polychronicity.

The downside of course causes the involuntarily famous and sometimes absurd funny administrative system of Italy as well as time you by yourself have to wait for a other person to show up.

Still, I am a supporter and user of this attitude thinking that in our fast-changing time and age these quirks maintain human interaction on a emotional level.


[1] {brubaker 2009-09-08 #1: 4}

[2] {brubaker 2009-09-08 #1: 4}

[3] {American Psychological Association 2011 #3}

[4] {Julius-Maximilians-University Wurzburg 2011-10-14 #4}

[5] {Universita degli Studi di Padova #5}

[6] {Samovar 2009 #6: 313}

[7] Abbreviation of the authors for Monochromatic time- editor's note

[8] {Samovar 2009 #6: 313}

[9] {Samovar 2009 #6: 313}

Excerpt out of 11 pages


Going abroad! A brief guide for exchange-students with a focus on communication
Ritsumeikan University  (Graduate School of International Relations)
Global Gateway Program
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
425 KB
inter cultural experience, personal experience, monochronic/, polychronic, South-Central Europe, East Asia, time perception
Quote paper
Robert Högerle (Author), 2011, Going abroad! A brief guide for exchange-students with a focus on communication, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/271959


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Going abroad! A brief guide for exchange-students with a focus on communication

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free