East Meets West: The Merging of Two Cultures


Once upon a time, I was a Londoner. Born and bred. Whilst I was aware of other cultures, beliefs and ways of living, I myself was a product of British values and traditions. Christmas fell on the 25th December, you drank tea with jam and bread, and one wore their thick-knit school uniform with pride. Yes, thinking back, I really was a product of my country.

When my life became intertwined with Georgia, the change in me was gradual. Things here were very alien to me, and whilst I fully appreciated and was somewhat in awe of such a different way of life, I couldn’t have imagined, at that time, that I would inherit Georgian values as my own.

Well, I won’t rant on about my history with Georgia (mostly because I’ve already written about it) – but suffice to say that, 5 years on, both Georgian and British cultures are an integral part of who I am. The only time this really makes me feel as if I alienate the great people of both countries is when I actually explain what life is like in said country. Picture this: explaining to a Brit that Georgians have two New Year’s, and that Christmas is in JANUARY. I think, though, that what strikes people most is not that there are two New Year’s or that Christmas falls after it, but more that I choose to celebrate these as well as the western holidays. For me, it’s always been easy to adjust. If I go to London, it may take a few days, but I’m pretty confident that I fit back in to everyday life there. Yet, I can never quite shake the feeling of alienating those around me. If I receive a call from a friend in Tbilisi whilst in London, you should see the look on people’s faces when I start to speak in Georgian. I often wonder if people in the UK see it as a betrayal, as if they are thinking, “don’t forget you’re British!”.

Yet having two counties to call home, two nationalities, two passports; makes me even prouder of my British heritage. It makes me appreciate things in the UK which before I took for granted. Paradoxically, the modernity that my country of birth possesses makes me truly appreciate the traditional cultural landscape that Georgia has.

So, to demonstrate the true meaning of dual-cultures: I stream UK comedy shows such as ‘Have I Got News for You’ on my laptop to get a good dose of that unique humour, yet curse in Georgian when I stub my toe. I’m an editor for Georgia Today, yet often ask my Georgian friends “how do you say [that word] in English?” The beauty of new direct routes connecting the two great nations has meant I can visit the UK more often, meaning said ‘merging’ of my cultures is even more apparent. I have a good friend here who is also British, her favorite dish? Khinkali and chips. What better defines a Georgian-Brit than that?

By Tamzin Whitewood

18 January 2018 16:55