Chapter 5: Calibrating Your Cultural Compass

Jan Chipchase breaks down how you can go through rapid cultural calibration. This can be done in 30 minutes, hours, or even years. The first step is to “wake up with the city“. The typical city wakes up at 4 am. During this time, you can experience how the city starts up: how its infrastructure systems prepare the city before the first wave of commuters. It’s crucial to experience some form of local transportation, even better if during peak hours. At these cultural central points, you can see signs, breaching behaviours, and public tolerance towards behaviours. Transportation and commuting also affect how businesses are scheduled; for example, in Beijing, business calls are scheduled during car commutes to the office. The most important part of cultural calibration is to physically place yourself in a community to experience it. Chipchase made an emphasis on visiting a salon/barber. In this social situation, you are given 20 minutes to chat with a local about basically any topic under the sun. This conversation will give you insight into local opinions and attitudes. 

There is no secondary research that will compare to the first-hand experiences. 

Author: Jessie Zhou

Graphic design exchange student from the University of Waterloo in Canada

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