Global Health, Culture, and Choices

Authored By:

Danielle W.

When thinking about culture, it is very unusual to think about how it affects health. However, experiencing another culture is a great way to see how a society’s health could be affected by their choices and culture. I have noticed many differences between Germany and the United States, therefore these two countries are likely to have different standards of health.

Global health looks at populations instead of individuals, therefore it is important to look at how general groups act and make choices. People can act based on climate, average standard of living, and so many other factors. The climate in Berlin has been a complete shock for me because it feels hot at all times of the day. The average temperature for my time here has been about ninety degrees. A local person told our group that it is usually not that hot, so people do not have to worry about the heat. Therefore, people rely on open windows and blinds to reduce heat instead of air conditioning. For people who are not from Berlin, the lack of air conditioning can affect health and cause headaches, exhaustion, and nose bleeds. Vice versa, a person from Berlin may have trouble adjusting to air conditioning because it affects the air.

There are also small acts that could affect people's health. While experiencing the culture, I have noticed that a lot of people in Berlin ride bikes and take public transportation. In the United States, it is not common to take public transportation because the subway systems are not that advanced in most cities. By riding bikes and public transportation, people get exposed to different germs from the air and other people. This can cause people to have different immune systems and diseases.

There are connections between culture and global health that are seen by experiencing Berlin, and I have also learned about how health is managed in Berlin through class lessons. In Berlin, health is seen as something that is necessary for a productive life, therefore it is not expensive for healthcare. In the United States, health is seen as something exclusive to the rich people because it costs a lot of money. It is great to see how different countries handle health because health affects our daily lives.

I have never looked at health from a cultural lens, but I will have this perspective so that I can analyze other countries. In class, we looked at graphs that listed the top causes of death and it was important to look past simple statistics. You have to look at things with a global health perspective to get more than basic knowledge because basic understanding is needed.