Arizona Culture From My Perspective

The culture in Arizona is significantly different from the culture in Kansas. I didn’t think it would be that different, but it is. The culture isn’t extremely different from being at home because it doesn’t just focus on one culture. Instead, it is a mixture of many different cultures. But, certain cultures are more prevalent in Arizona compared to Kansas. Arizona’s culture mostly consists of Native American, Hispanic, and Spanish colonial history.

A few examples of my host culture that are distant from my own are the gorgeous Catholic missions that are here in Tucson. The one that I drive by regularly and toured is the San Xavier Mission and I have never seen anything like it. It was built in 1797 and is still used for services. Another example of my host culture that is distant from my own is the amount of food trucks, truck vendors, and swap meets. On nearly every corner and empty lot, you can find a Sonoran hot dog truck or someone selling random goods. This seemed really different to me because I think I have seen two food trucks the entire time I have lived in Kansas. Day of the Dead is also largely celebrated here in Arizona, at an event called the “All Souls Procession”. I didn’t even really understand what was all involved with this event until I attended it. It was an amazing opportunity for me to learn more about the celebration.

There are also aspects of my host culture that are very similar to my own because I am still in the United States. Arizona is largely an agrarian society having many ranches and farms, like Kansas. Another simple example would be that there is no language barrier and that my wardrobe from Kansas fits in with Arizona’s just as easily.

I really haven’t had any huge or alarming reactions to the aspects that are distant to my own culture. I really enjoy learning more and experiencing each of the new things that I find different. I have toured a few different museums and have been to different events. Overall though, I haven’t had to make any major adjustments in order to fit in. People don’t even realize that I am not from here unless I tell them. I have gone to a few cultural events to try and understand the culture more though. I went to a festival called “Tucson Meet Yourself”. At this festival, I got to learn about all of the different cultural groups that are here in Tucson. I also got to ask them questions about their culture and try many different foods. I also went to the “All Souls Procession” that I discussed earlier.

The cultural iceberg explores more of culture than just looking at the observable behaviors. Instead it looks at the core values of the culture, like what is good or bad or what is right and wrong. I chose to analyze the Hispanic culture using this iceberg model. Some of the core values of the Spanish culture are that they value the group and not the individual. They often look at their family as being as their own identity. Their families are also stratified on generational hierarchy. So, the oldest male holds the highest power. These are some of the most prevalent values of the Hispanic culture that I found and have witnessed since I have been here.

-Madison Livengood, NSE Exchange Student, Arizona

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