1st Blog Post!

The cultural, social, economic, and geographical factors inherent to a particular place can have a significant influence on a person. In this blog post I will be talking about the differences between my upbringing in Lower Manhattan, New York City, and my group mate from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These two regions represent distinct cultural, social, and economic contexts that impact the lives of their young residents.
Cultural Diversity:
One of the most striking differences between Lower Manhattan and the UAE is cultural diversity. Lower Manhattan, being the world’s largest melting pot of culture, offers people exposure to a plethora of cultures, languages, and traditions. The city’s cultural melting pot fosters tolerance, open-mindedness, and a rich tapestry of experiences. People from NYC are likely to attend schools with peers from various ethnic backgrounds, and eat diverse cuisines. Like me where I studied at a British-American school for elementary and middle school. This cultural mosaic promotes a global perspective and a sense of unity amidst diversity.
In contrast, the UAE has a more homogeneous cultural landscape. The majority of the population in the UAE is of Arab descent, and the country is rooted in Islamic traditions. While there is a more progressive community, the cultural diversity is limited compared to NYC. People in the UAE are more likely to be surrounded by and experience a predominantly Arab-Islamic environment, with fewer opportunities for exposure to differing cultures. This can instill a strong sense of identity but may also lead to a more insular worldview.
Social Structures:
Social structures in NYC and the UAE also differ significantly. In NYC, the social fabric is characterized by individualism and diversity of lifestyles. People very commonly witness a wide range of family structures, from nuclear families to single-parent households and same-sex couples raising children (like me, who was raised by two gay fathers). This diversity brings a large culture and way of life to the city. Conversely, the UAE has a more traditional family structure, with an emphasis on extended families and conservative values. I did find out that extended family was also a big contributor and is very important in the UAE, like it is where I’m from in NYC. For my family, we are small immediately but are humongous when including my extended family, they are the ones who give my advice and help me with tough decisions.
Economic differences between Lower Manhattan and the UAE are also notable. NYC is a very economically diverse city, but on the international level is very wealthy, with a high cost of living and an accumulation of wealth, and has been that way for nearly 400 years. People from this environment often have access to top-quality education, healthcare, and extracurricular activities. However, the pressure to succeed and the competitive nature of the city can create stress and anxiety for many people. In contrast, the UAE has experienced rapid economic growth in recent decades, leading to rapid improved living standards for many people. Nevertheless, economic disparities still exist, with a significant gap between the wealthiest and the rest of the population. People in the UAE may have access to excellent educational facilities and a comfortable lifestyle, but social mobility can be influenced by family connections and socioeconomic status.
Growing up in Gramercy Park, NYC, was an important and positive experience for me. It seems like my group-mates from the UAE feel similarly. NYC’s cosmopolitan atmosphere encourages open-mindedness and exposure to various cultures, while the UAE’s more homogeneous environment fosters a strong sense of identity and tradition. Social structures in both regions shape family dynamics and values, with Lower Manhattan emphasizing individualism and diversity and the UAE emphasizing family and tradition. Economic disparities exist heavily in both places. But, ultimately, these experiences and influences are deeply rooted in the context of one’s environment, shaping who they become and how they perceive the world.






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