Adopting a child isn’t an easy process, so imagine adopting an entire culture.
To adopt means “to take up or start to use or follow (an idea, method, or course of action)” or “to take on or assume (an attitude or position).” So in relation to cultural integration, adopting can be defined as taking on the ideas and methods, as well as the attitudes and positions of a culture.
This may not be easy to do, nor is it absolutely necessary to adequate integration if you are temporarily living in a foreign culture.
Do I have to adopt the entire culture?
It’s unlikely that you’ll adopt every aspect of a new culture as your own, but as with adapting, adopting some parts of your host culture will enable integration.
It’s up to you to choose which parts of a culture you’d like to adopt. In this way, adopting a culture is unique to everyone.
To University of Illinois Multicultural Communications Professor, Dr. Elaine Yuan, adopting a culture “means to know the local language well in order to express oneself freely, to know the local social psychology and etiquettes well in order to make friends, build social support and feel comfortable in this foreign social environment.”
In the Life Made Simple blog, Yuan – who is originally from Beijing, China – credits communication with locals and the willingness to learn as incredibly helpful to the adoption process.
What types of things can I adopt?
There are so many beautiful aspects of a foreign culture you might choose to adopt.
Some great practices include:
- The Navajo tradition of celebrating a baby’s first laugh by throwing a party…while the person who made the baby laugh foots the bill
- The April 23rd celebration in Barcelona called “The Day of the Book and the Rose,” in which women gift men with a book and are given a rose in return…or the other way around, if you’re nontraditional
- The Finnish custom of providing pregnant mothers with a gift box of essentials – onesies, diapers, bath products, bedding, etc. – which, according to the BBC, is “a tradition that dates back to the 1930s…designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they’re from, an equal start in life”
All aspects and practices of a culture are up for adoption. And choosing to integrate these into your own life will make you feel one with a foreign culture.
How do I adopt?
To adopt, all you must do is put another culture’s ideas, methods, attitudes, positions, or traditions into practice. If you live long enough in a foreign culture, doing so needn’t be forced. There’s no method to getting there, but the steps of awareness, accepting and adapting will certainly lead naturally to adopting.
With time and openness, these last steps of integration will develop organically.