Adapting to Time Differences

Lesson 2: Topic 19 of 19

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An American moving into a Flex time culture will face challenges. Time is unseen, but has a significant impact. As a college student, I spent a summer volunteering with a nonprofit in Ghana, West Africa. The first week was rough — everything was slow! Things didn’t happen when stated, even with Americans. (The Americans were mostly people who had been in-country for several years to a few decades. They had become culturally acclimated!) At the start of week two, however, I had an epiphany. I packed my watch away in my suitcase. Yes, this was “back in the day,” before the essential smartphone. But what a change! Without immediate reference to exact time, life was more relaxing. Frustration wasn’t completely eliminated, though. Making appointments with people who knew exactly where to find you in a small village was a different process. Sometimes they would appear an entire two days after the agreed time and day. I had lots of learning that summer about flex time!

Pause and consider: Is your Time Orientation truly American? How does your physical speed relate to your perspective on time? Are you willing to spend time on relationships or do you view getting to know people as a task?