“Miley Cyrus And Inter-Cultural Understanding: 10 Surprising Things They Have In Common” (or Not)

Seriously? That’s the title you’re going with? “Miley Cyrus And Inter-Cultural Understanding”

Miley Cyrus and Inter-Cultural Understanding: Don't Leave Your Inter-Cultural Sensitivity to a computer algorithmThis one gave me quite a laugh. It just goes to show that the subject of inter-cultural understanding requires more than just an algorithm to resolve. Here’s what happened…

Hubspot, a great company whose blog I follow and whose products/services interest me for my communications work, just sent out an email with a new tool… a topic generator for blogs.

I thought, “Ok, I’m game, let’s see what this thing offers for your reading enjoyment.”

The simple directions asked me to enter three things I like writing about, three nouns. I chose:

  • inter-cultural understanding,
  • expatriate life,  and
  • traditions  —  just off the top of my head.

Here are the recommendations that the algorithm put together for us.

Drum Roll, please.  Wait for it…


1) How To Solve The Biggest Problems With Inter-Cultural Understanding

2) 10 Quick Tips About Expatriate Life

3) 5 Tools Everyone In The Traditions Industry Should Be Using

4)Miley Cyrus And Inter-Cultural Understanding: 10 Surprising Things They Have In Common

5)15 Best Blogs To Follow About Expatriate Life

< TRY AGAIN…       (Ya think??)

Inter-Cultural Understanding In Just 30 Minutes- Call Now For Your Free Brochure…

What this tells me is that you can’t outsource creativity and authenticity. Sure there are lots of blogs people are writing about trending topics, for social lives of the hip and wannabefamous, but being an expat probably doesn’t fall into that category.

To me, learning about culture and international customs is more than today’s hot topic. Understanding how the human spirit reacts in adverse conditions or responds to bureaucratic red tape, offers hope to others who follow after.

Computer algorithm: No substitute for Human Understanding

Everyday we come together and share ways to solve the biggest problems with inter-cultural understanding, but it isn’t a quick fix like learning the secrets to refinancing your home. There are no “algorithmic” solutions. Each situation requires a body of experience, a new perspective- that’s what makes expatriate skills so valuable when we finally do repatriate. (Whether local employers ‘get it’ or not…)

I feel like there is a subtlety to the understanding developed over years of international and domestic living, transitions and settling in, setting goals and overcoming obstacles. Which is why I’m not a fan of the “10 quick tips about expatriate life” idea. If all the barriers could be overcome by “10 quick tips,” why are we still helping others adjust and find their way? 10 observations or tips about making a change successfully, sure; about all of life? Hmmm, not so much.

Anyone want to tackle the next one? (smile)

5 Tools Everyone In The Traditions Industry Should Be Using“… Maybe we should change this one to “5 People Who Know What The Traditions Industry Is” and can tell us all about it. I know I shouldn’t laugh, but maybe Hubspot already knows we will. They know these are starting points that make us think about what we really want to say. And I’m certainly in favor of that.

What About Miley Cyrus?

So that brings us to Miley Cyrus… uh, Miley Cyrus… ok, I got nothin’ here.

Frankly, just seeing these words “Miley Cyrus And Inter-Cultural Understanding” together in a sentence is surprising enough- can there possibly be 9 more surprising things?

I’d like to say that Miley offers us a role model of how to be culturally sensitive, but even that’s not working for me! Maybe it’s the opposite?  We’ve all seen expats who are new to the international business or assistance world, who make a scene by demeaning or demanding someone do something just like it was at home. We cringe and try to help them out. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it’s a failed assignment. We lose a friend over the lack of sensitivity and willingness to adapt.

I’d like to say that I want to know 10 surprising things about inter-cultural understanding, but after having seen some of the things in Baku, Tbilisi, Istanbul, Frankfurt, Paris, even London, I’m not sure that many things could surprise me.

If I’ve learned anything at all, it’s to keep my eyes open and my opinions to myself until I get comfortable with how things run locally. I’ve learned to lean on local friends and colleagues to get their take on how things operate and what the taboos are. I keep my ears open, listening for tones of voice, and my American know-it-all’ness to a minimum, until I am asked for advice.

At work I have learned to ask questions when I delegate a task or provide instruction.

At times I know I was tough on some of the young people I was training, not allowing them to settle for study that was mediocre, believing that holding a high standard for work would help them think of quality in service to others. Maybe… I’d have to ask them after all this time whether it did or not.

(As close as we were, knowing that someone could skim money from my office, that surprises me still. I don’t know if I will ever understand that, but I have learned that blind ambition makes all kinds of people do all kinds of things, so why should my relationships be immune? Hard lesson to learn.)

In travel I’ve learned about keeping documents accessible, and have to laugh with my husband who is “just now” saying, “maybe I should look into this cloud-based email thing…” Oh my goodness.

Where would we all have been without non-server based email? With the way expats travel and change locations in a nomadic existence, we would be lost if we didn’t have portability in our contacts and access to our records.  Things that folks at home are just now seeing, expats figured out years ago.  That experience is invaluable to employers- problem solving at a high degree of complexity.

Resources & Blogs About Expatriate Life & Inter-Cultural Understanding

Out of this whole tool test, the one topic I can agree with is the “15 Best Blogs To Follow About Expatriate Life.”   I’ll list my some of my favorites and tell you why. Then you can share your favorites and tell me what you learn or enjoy about them. Deal?

Ok, then… in no particular order, here are 15 wonderful blogs about new cultures and expat living at it’s finest, followed by a few links to some great additional resources:

  1. http://www.pinterest.com/thrivingabroad/ (Not a “blog” but a great place to go read lots of expat tips)
  2. The Curious Rambler– American expat in France by way of England and Italy. Lot’s of problem solving and adjustment stories, versus advice
  3. sunnyinterval.com– a voice of experience
  4. http://expatlog.com– a keen eye for intercultural and inter-faith relationships at home abroad
  5. GALLIVANCE–  inter-cultural understanding at its best
  6. http://www.lifeintheexpatlane.com/– Kids, families, adjustments… a trifecta of experience
  7. Let Them Eat Borscht– an expat student abroad, a younger perspective
  8. The Culture Monk– not an expat, but an interesting inter-cultural awareness
  9. kenthinksaloud– thoughts about culture and repatriation after a long period in Bangladesh
  10. Communicating.Across.Boundaries – Third-Culture Kid section offers lots of insight
    – .
  11. Anne Egros, Intercultural Executive Coach- Read more at Zest n Zen – lots of helpful information
  12. blank canvas diaries– Anniebirdcakes perspective as an expat wife on adjusting lives
  13. 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle- Kirsty Rice blogs at http://kirstyriceonline.com/ and is a regular contributor on Mamamia.com.au.
  14. http://expatfamilyresiliencecoach.com/ Dealing with Stress of the Expat Experience
  15. http://expatinnice.blogspot.com/ – adjusting, home based business, flexibility

https://www.facebook.com/figt.org – Family resource central on Facebook

http://www.adventuresinexpatland.com/wp/2011/06/13/julia-simens-emotional-resilience-and-the-expat-child/– Parenting and helping children cope

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/focus-on-expat-life-blogs/ A Blog of good blog resources

http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs– directory of blogs

http://expatriatelife.wordpress.com/resources/ – resources and a wealth of connectedness


http://lavaleandherworld.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/the-4-phases-of-moving-to-another-place/ The 4 Phases of Moving to Another Place 




In addition, check out my ExPat Links Resource page here for more connections.

7 thoughts on ““Miley Cyrus And Inter-Cultural Understanding: 10 Surprising Things They Have In Common” (or Not)

  1. Wow! I’m amazed! Better not to outsource creativity to an algorithm, that’s what my conclusion is! That was an interesting read, thanx for sharing! And Thank you for including my thoughts within Expat resources to look at!
    🙂 I feel very honored! have a great Sunday!


    • You’re very welcome, Valeria! I’m happy to have your perspective to draw from. Interesting what algorithms come up with, isn’t it?

      I tried several more combinations and they all came out strange like these did, so my guess is we’ll just have to use our own brains and experiences for our posts! Like you, I think people would rather read what seems interesting to us (humans!) as opposed to what some machine dreams up.

      I’m glad you enjoyed that and hope to be sharing much more between our two worlds this year! If it gets too hot for you down there, think of all the snow and polar winds we’re having now… That’ll keep you cool… 😉


      • Hi Jonelle!
        I totally agree, better to use our own brains or to critically comment on interesting content than outsourcing it to a formula. We don’t want to loose that capability in this modern world, right?

        I am too looking forward to sharing some more content with you in 2014. And thanks, it cooled down in Melbourne as of Saturday. Players at the Australian Open, together with all the visitors and the Melbournians are happy about it! Me included!! 🙂


      • You’re so right about us vs the algorithms of machines… I’ll take good old fashioned conversation any day! Glad to hear things have cooled down there… Here too- we went from chilly to arctic! 😉 send us some Aussie love in the form of warm thoughts…


  2. I too, used the topic generator for blogs and came up with the Miley suggestion: “Miley Cyrus And Trim Painting: 10 Surprising Things They Have In Common”. And thought what DO they have in common and did a search. That’s how I found your article…I guess it worked for this blog!


    • Miley Cyrus and Trim Painting? That’s pretty interesting. The main problem I saw with that topic generator tool was that, as you found, it comes up in lots of searches, but how many “painters” (or in your case, internet marketers) are interested in articles about foreign travels or inter-cultural stories?

      On the positive side, it did allow us to find each other and have a laugh about what Miley Cyrus has to do with any of these things!

      Thanks for the comment, and hopefully we’ll learn something from all this! Have a good week.


  3. Pingback: Expatriate, Not Ex-Patriot : Rasmenian Detritus

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