As I write this, I’m preparing to leave for a summer study-abroad program in Barcelona. I am pretty excited, naturally - I’ve been out of the country a few times but certainly never for almost three months.

I sometimes think about culture - mainstream culture, subculture, Christian culture, corporate culture. It’s a tricky thing to define, and even trickier to understand. Georgia Tech has a culture. Bakersfield has a culture. White middle-class Americans have a culture that differs in many ways from that of Latino or Chinese immigrants, and even from the culture of whites in poor neighborhoods. Our cultures influence how we see the world, who we feel comfortable with, and what skills and knowledge we view as important.

If I want to be more than just a member of culture - if I want to contribute something to it and help to define it rather than letting it define me - I have to understand it first. But like looking through rose-tinted glasses, I have cultural biases that I can’t even see. They are ‘unknown unknowns’: not only can I not fully account for them, I can’t even identify all of them unless I first take off the glasses and try on someone else’s pair.

My hope for this summer is to do just that - by leaving my own culture and immersing myself in another, I can go beyond the superficial and start to understand how other people live life, outside of this rather small box containing my own experiences. By stepping outside my box, I can start to see how it’s shaped, find the places that need expanding, and maybe even begin crafting it into something better.

I’ll be chronicling my experiences on this blog. I’m going to challenge myself to write something every day, though that may not be a blog post. You can follow me via RSS feed (link in the header) or on Twitter.