Analyzing Poll Results

When I first set out to create my blog I posted a poll to get an idea of what excites people most about traveling to another culture. Below I have two pictures, The first picture is the poll that I posted at the beginning of the semester and the picture next to it is my results.

While I only had 14 people take my poll I did find the answers to be very interesting. When I first set out to make this poll I thought that it would be 50/50 for learning a new language, seeing where others come from and trying new foods. While I thought traveling would be the highest voted answer.

As I watched responses come in throughout the semester I began to notice that Learning a new language was never picked. This interested me because part of traveling to another culture is getting to learn the language of the country you are traveling to. So its interesting that no one picked learning a new language since part of traveling requires one to learn the language if they don’t speak the language you already speak.

Now when I looked at the results for seeing where others come from, it seemed to be pretty accurate and considering that I only got 14 responses it seems pretty reasonable that only 3 out of my 14 responses was wanting to see where others come from. Part of the reasons we travel is to see different place of the world and experiencing a day in their life.

When I looked at the results for trying new foods I was also amazed that only 2 out of the 14 participates said that they liked to learn about new cultures to try new foods. But as I began to think about it more and more it makes sense that only two enjoyed this the most about learning about a new culture. Because lets face it some people are just plain picky when it comes to food while others are open to trying new foods.

Now for the Traveling results. This result was the one that I thought would have the highest amount of votes because one of the best parts about learning about a new culture is getting to travel to a foreign place. I also knew this result was going to be the highest considering that everyone loves to travel and just by considering the demographic I was writing theses questions and my blog for were college aged kids.

In conclusion, while I set out to see what excites people about learning about a new culture, I also found myself surprised that the results I got were no what I was expecting to see by the end of this semester. But I was right about one of my results, that traveling is the highest ranked reasons that people like to learn about new cultures.

My Cultural Roots

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When I was growing up I learned that my family came over on the mayflower, but it wasn’t until last year that I found out my exact percentages of where I originate from. Like almost all white Americans I have roots from all over Europe, but I was surprised to find out that I was 20 percent of Irish, Scottish, English, French and Belgian. In this post I want to explore each of my roots, to explore each of the different cultures that I come from.


When it comes to my Irish background I find myself connecting more to the Irish culture. This might be because my last name, McLaughlin, comes from Irish origin. But this isn’t the only reason I find myself relating to my Irish heritage more. I fins myself relating more to my Irish background because my Grandmother was always so proud of her Irish background and heritage that she would talk about all the good times she had in Ireland with her family. She loved being Irish so much that should would drag my family and I to  a show that would do traditional Irish dancing when ever it was in town. One of the dances she loved the most was Irish step dancing. If you have never seen what traditional Irish dancing looks like here is a youtube link to an Irish Dance group step dancing a dance called the River dance: Trust me if you haven’t seen one of theses dances this is a link you will want to check out. For many years I have wondered how they do this dance because it looks so complicated, but it also looks quite fun. Because my Grandma would visit her family in Ireland all the time when she was younger this is when she was able to discover the world of traditional Irish dancing. But Irish dancing isn’t the only aspect of Irish culture. While researching more about the Irish culture I found many more incrusting things about the Irish culture. One of the most interesting things about the Irish culture that I found while exploring it was Irelands national anthem. Throughout all the national anthems that I have heard for my background I found Irelands to be the most beautiful, if you want to take a listen heres a link: 

If learning more about the Irish culture is something that your interested in take a look at this youtube video that I found and watched:

As I continue to research my Irish culture, it makes me want to visit Ireland more and more.


As I began to look into French culture there were a few things that I found to be interesting. But the first step I took to learning more about France and it history was watch this youtube video:

After I watched this video I contained to look into French culture and found many different aspects of French culture interesting.The thing that I think is so interesting is how in each culture there is a different way of doing everything which is shown in the list below.


In france Food is one of the great passions of the French people. When you are eating French food or even watching someone cooking French food you would be able to see that it is highly refined and involves careful preparation, attention to detail, and the use of freshest ingredients.But one thing I did learn about French food is that it varies by the region and the dished are heavily influenced by what is grown locally.

French Family Values

Another thing I found interesting in French cultures was their family values. In each family the family i member has certain duties and responsibilities when it comes to doing work around the house or even just in their daily lives. One thing that I thought was interesting and noticed with my family is the our extended family like French families will provide my family with both emotional and financial support when it is needed. Most American families don’t follow by this rule, but because my family comes from French roots this is a social interaction that my family still values and follows to this day.

Relationships Public Vs. Private 

Much like I descaled in Family values that my family has similar values, I found that in this section my family also incorporates this lifestyle into our lives. The one thing that stuck out to me was when I read that the French are private people and have different rules of behaviour for people within their social circle and those who are not. I found this to be very relatable because my family can be super private about our lives and we only chose to share our private lives with the people who we are closets to. Another thing that interested me was when I was reading about friendships. In the French culture friendship has roles and responsibilities, which include being available for our friends when we are needed. And it also includes having some type of communication with them daily. I see this value in myself and my family as well. Whenever a friend has needed us we did whatever we could do to be there for them. But my family including myself always makes sure that we check up or even have a text conversation with out friends to see how they are doing.

Theses three things were the most interesting to me when learning more about my French culture because I see this intertwined into my families life daily.


Before I get into talking about what interests be about Scottish culture I went and watched a bit of background of Scotland. If you want to learn more about its history click on this youtube link:

Now when I was a little girl I can remember being taken to many different events that my Grandma also really loved. She loved to go see people play the bag pipes. And yes I know what some of you are thinking, how did you sit through that? But much to anyones beliefs bag pipe music is actually really cool. Take a listen and a look for yourself! regardless if you like it or not bag pipes and the shows that are put on are pretty cool If I do say so myself. But as I recall this is the only real slice of my Scottish culture that I can remember. So I went and did a bit of digging to keep in tune with the bog pipes I decided to see what each item of clothing is and why they wear it.

Kilts and Tartan

Scottish tartan kilt and 'hairy' sporran

The piece of clothing that I recognized right away was the ‘kilt, so I began to search around a look at why the ‘kilt is worn in Scotland. I found out that the ‘kilt most likely has origins from way back in the 9th century. But then as I began digging more into the ‘kilts history I found out the the patter which is called tartan wasn’t even associated with the ‘kilt until the 18th century. How interesting is that! I couldn’t really find another reason to why the Kilt is worn for shows except for the fact that the ‘kilt is a traditional item of clothing in Scotland.


Now when it comes to my English roots this makes me super excited. I have always loved England and I think its partly because this is where Shakespeare is from. Throughout my whole life I have always love the fact that Shakespeare was from England so when I found out that I had English blood running throughout my veins I was excited. But I have never really experienced any of the culture from England. All I know is that I really love their accents and wish I had one. So with that being said on my quest to learn more about England my first stop was this Youtube video:  to learn about England’s History.

The one thing that I found the most interesting in my quest to learn more about England was when I began to read about the arts and the literature in England. I may have connected more with this because I have always loved litter hints to why I like Shakespeare. But one of the most interesting things I read about their art and literature was the fact that little is know about the English literature before the arrival of the Anglo-saxons. however there seemed to to traces of England’s past in Arthurian legend which is a body of stories and medieval romances which happened to be centered around king Arthur. Nut lets stop talking about literature because I could probably bore you guys to death with an in depth analysis of English Literature. But before I move onto my last and final piece of my heritage I want to talk about cultural activities because as I began researching England many of the websites I visited talked about how theater is a big part of peoples lives. This interested me because my family and I go to see a theater production at least once a year. Theater has always been a big part of my family so its interesting that during my search many of different list listed theater as being a family or just a singular activity that most English people like to participate in.


On my quest to learn more about Belgium I watched this Youtube video

Now when I saw that I was Belgian I thought this was interesting, and if I’m being honest I didn’t know much about Belgian until I watched the video above. Now when it came to looking into their culture I complied a list of some of the most interesting facts below.

Languages Of Belgium

The official Languages of Belgium are French, Dutch and German. But there are many different languages that are spoken in Belgium like Wallon which is used by 33% of population. Flemish which is the local variant of Dutch and is used by more than 60% of the population, and is spoken in the northern part of the country. In Brussels which is the capital of Belgium, they speak two official languages: French and Dutch.

The next thing that I learned was also super interesting. In Belgium Appearances matter. And don’t get me wrong appearances matter anywhere we go but I found it interesting that each site I visited said this in some shape or form. So next time you visit Belgium you might notice that Belgians take great pride in their houses. And now that I think about it this description is my Mom all the way. My Mom has always taken pride in the way her house is set up so the fact that my family has Belgian blood running through are views is super interesting when I read about how Belgians take pride in their homes making sure everything outside and inside the house looks good.

There you guys go, while learning a little more about me and where I come from I also found five great places that I want to visit the next time I take a trip to Europe.

Travelers Check list

When planning a trip abroad it can be fun but it can also be stressful. Between booking flights, looking for visa requirements, booking hotels and planning your daily activities it can be easy to overlook some important details that could mess up your travel. So simply putting a to-do list or a check list together can help you get more organized and can eve relive some of the stress you may be having while planning the trip. Below is a checklist for you to follow while planing your trip.

Protect Your Valuables

When you are in a rush packing many people forget that aside from travel insurance that it is also a good idea to keep their valuable items, like electronics and jewelry. You may also want to consider buying an insurance plan for each of theses valuable items, incase anything was to happen to them

Check Your Passport

When getting ready to leave for your trip it can be easy to stash your passport away and not think about it until it is time for you to leave for the airport or even when you are at the airport trying to get on the plane. But it is also important to check when your passport expires before you began to book and make plans to travel abroad because there is nothing more stressful than looking at your passport and realizing that you only have 5b more days left on you passport making it a big mess when you have already planned and have plane flights set up. If you check your passport before booking and playing your stay abroad this will save you the stress of having to renew your passport last minute.

Check For Hidden Fees
The next thing you want to do before booking and planning your vacation is check for any hidden fees. Many European countries have began to implement city tourism taxes in addition to the already expensive visa fees you’ll have to pay. While theses fees are usually small fees which is usually a couple extra euros for each night your staying. But rather than being surprised when you get to your hotel and check in you should look for the extra fees when you are booking hotels. This is helpful to know so you know to have some extra money incase theses fees do come up once you have arrived.
Don’t Forget Your Tech
You may be asking yourself why would I forget my tech? Well you may think that you won’t forget your tech but it happens. trust me you won’t want to be stuck on a 12 hour flight without your headphones and what ever device you use to listen to music. And while there are often many different entertainment options on long flights, you might want to have other back up options in case the entertainment that is provided on the plane isn’t something you are interested in. So having extra things to do on the plane like listening to your music or even listening to an audio book or reading a book is always a good form of entertainment. And lets face it now a days we all have some sort of smart phone that has games on it as well.
Don’t Forget Your Adapter
Lets face it we have all done it at least once we travel to another country and bring our American charing units to find out charing outlets are not the same as the country that we are traveling to. So add bring adapter to you list so your not having to buy a new adapter when you get to the country.
Brief Your Bank
Last buy not least you should never forget to tell your bank of your plans to travel abroad. This is one of the frequently forgotten tasks every traveler forgets about. Giving your bank a heads up that you’ll be using your card abroad is important. Why? Well if you don’t want the bank to think that someone has stolen your card and have the card turned off this is definitely a step you want to take before traveling abroad to another country.


5 Best Destinations for First Time International Travelers

If this is your first time traveling to a foreign country, you may have a mix of emotions, excitement and nervousness. When you are traveling to a foreign country you are pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone going to a place that is far way from home and your culture. So if this is your first time traveling abroad you might want to consider the destinations listed below.

  1. Iceland  Not only is Iceland one of the hottest travel destinations right now, but its jaw-dropping landscape of black sand beaches, glacial lagoons, hot springs, steaming volcanoes and the endless number waterfalls it has Iceland makes you feel like you’re on a completly different planet. Iceland is also a very easy destination to travel to but Icelanders speaks English so you won’t have to struggle to communicate. There is also a strong tourism rate in Iceland, so crime is practically non-existent. The best time to visit Iceland is between late September and mid-March, especially if you have been dying to see the northern lights like I have. The roads are also very easy to navigate if you decide to rent and car and drive. There are also many different actives you can do in Iceland like take tours and by taking tours this will allow you to relax.
  2. United KingdomThe United Kingdom. Now I know what all of you are thinking, that The United Kingdom is the obvious choice for many first-time overseas travelers. But hear me out for first time travelers they might want the first time out of the country to be a good experience and seeing as as everyone in The United Kingdom speaks English this is a good choice for a first timer. Now my next reason is the first time traveler is less likely to experience culture shock in The United Kingdom. Which is good but the first time travel isn’t going to be missing out on feeling like they are in a totally different country. The United Kingdom is also very diverse, so the first time traveler will be able to spend their time in big cities like London.
  3. Ireland Now for Ireland is not only one of the safest and most beautiful countries in the world, but it is said that the Irish are known as some of the friendliest people on Earth. The only problem you might find when traveling here is that you might get spoiled. Expect to enjoy lots of Irish charm, humor and legendary hospitality, along with the lush emerald hills, a breathtaking coastline, ancient castles and gorgeous lochs.
  4. Newfoundland, CanadaCanada as a whole is a fantastic place for a first time international trip. And depending on where you live, it may be just a hop, skip and a jump over the border, and, it’s a safe, friendly and incredibly scenic place, ideal for outdoor adventurers. The people who live in Newfoundlanders are said to go out of their way to make their visitors feel welcome, which is nice for any first time traveler in a foreign country.
  5. Japan Now for any new traveler they have dreamed of visiting Asia. But I’m sure the many people who have always wanted to visit Asia may be concerned about the cultural differences. So I have chosen to put Japan on this list because one of the more accessible countries to get to. While English isn’t widely spoken, in large tourist areas like Kyoto and Tokyo, it is more common, and most of the important signs, such as road signs, signs in train and subway stations, are in both English and Japanese. So even if you don’t speak the Japanese language you would still be able to get around Japan. It has also been found that the Japanese are welcoming and friendly to travelers. Plus, if you chose to travel to Japan you will be able to  experience the many peaceful gardens, temples and shrines.




Exploring Japanese Culture Through “Spirited Away”


The director of this movie is Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki is a well-known Japanese director throughout the world. He is best known for this film Spirited Away.

Screen Shot 2017-10-21 at 7.52.13 PMAccording to the Oxford English Dictionary Anime is the process of photographing drawings or objects a frame at a time; by changing a drawing or moving an object slightly before each frame is taken, the illusion of motion is realized. To bring something to life.

Some examples of Anime features

  • Colorful graphics
  • Vibrant characters
  • Fantastic themes


Where is this film set?

Spirited away is set in Japan in a deserted theme park and a bath house for spirts. In this movie, it is set in two different worlds. A modern-day Japan where Chihiro and get family live and there is a parallel mysterious land where weird and wonderful creatures and spirits lurk.

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What is the significance of the bath house in Japanese culture and in this movie?

  • Bathhouses are part of Japanese tradition
  • Customers pay for entry into bathhouses
  • Is seen as a way of not only washing, but being able to relax and be sociable with other guests
  • In modern Japan, bathhouses are used for infrequently than they were in the past. The bathhouse represents traditional Japan. Because it is set in an abandoned theme park this might suggest Japans abandonment of Japanese bathhouses hence the Japanese tradition.
  • The bathhouse in this story is significant to Chihrio’s journey as this is where she learns more about her culture and also her responsibilities and independence.

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Cultural Understanding

Because Spirited Away is written and set in Japan, this at times can be confusing to someone who is not familiar with the Japanese culture. This is why I decided to view and talk about Spirted away. So I could both discuss Japanese culture but also include a movie that uses many visuals of the Japanese culture. Hopefully this blog post will have you understanding Japanese culture more and maybe you can go watch spirited away after reading this post and understand what is going on in this movie.

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Spirit Realm and Shinto

In Japan for thousands of years people have believed that gods and spirts live all around them in the rivers the trees and houses.


  • Shinto is the original religion of Japan
  • It is centered on the belief that all physical entities have living souls called kami
  • Kami can manifest in multiple forms like rocks, trees, rivers, animals, places and even people
  • Worshipers believe in Kami (spirts) that occupy the same realm as humans
  • Since 1945 it has been no longer taught in state ran schools

Now let’s get into all the different visuals of the Japanese culture in Spirited Away.

 The very first thing I noticed in this movie was when Chihrio and her parents where driving in the car. Here in the united states we drive on the right side of the road so it was interesting to see and watch a movie where the driver’s seat was where the passenger’s side is here in the united states.

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The next really beautiful image we get with the car scene is when they show the car driving on the road. Because they drive on the left side of the road you can notice in this picture below that they do drive on the left side and not the right like we do here in America.

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Also, the use of the more modern cars in this movie represent that Japanese culture has embraced European/Western products.

Now let talk about the clothes used in this movie. Because this movie has both traditional and modern aspects about it. Here you can see that Chrihrio and her parents are wearing what you would call modern clothing.

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However, when we get to the spirt world, where the bath house is we began to see more traditional Japanese clothing.

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This is Traditional clothing worn by Haku in Spirited Away

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Here Chiriro is also wearing her bath house uniform, with her modern-day shoes.

This is a photo that I found to give you a better visual of some of the traditional clothing that is used in Spirited Away.

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The items od clothing that are used and shown in this movie are the Haori, Hakama, Tabi and Zori.

Now another thing that I noticed throughout this movie was bowing to each other. In japan it is considered to be respectful to bow to each other.

Now that I have gone through some of the simpler signs of Japanese culture I want to go into more depth. In my research, I kept running across ideas and thoughts about how Japan is the land of the rising sun. Now in the movie Spirited Away there is a painting in the background of a sun.

Miyazaki is very clever when it comes to putting simple details in his movie that I may have never really payed attention to if I didn’t do research on the Japanese culture before watching this movie.

Are you hungry? No? Well you are about to be. Below are a few foods you may encounter if you travel to Japan that was shown in the film Spirited Away. 

Steamed Red Buns
Steamed red bean buns are popular in many East Asian cultures. If your interested in making this feel free to click here for the recipe.

Sponge Cake“Ke-ki” (cake) is a type of “Yogashi,” the Japanese term for Western-style sweets. Simple and delicious. If thanks to this post you are craving some sponge cake click here.

Rice Balls/Onigiri おにぎり

In this picture there are multiple food items that are shown in this picture. Some of the food items include:

Rice balls have been around for many many years and they are often triangular like show in the pictures. If you want to try and make this snack click  here


Sushi 寿司 which is another classic Japanese dish, it is made of vinegared rice and comes with a topping or filling. The specific types of sushi shown in this picture are: nigirizushi, which is rice topped with prawn or tuna and makizushi, a roll of rice wrapped around any type of fillings that a person would desire.

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There are many more foods shown in this movie as well. However because there is so many featured in this movie I’m not going to be able to pin point all of them. just look at this photo of No Face in the bath house. Screen Shot 2017-10-21 at 10.19.18 PM.png

Some of the foods I can pin point are:

maze 混ぜ gohan ご飯, which is basically just rice mixed with some other ingredient. Click here if you want to make it.

nishime 煮しめ, a typical New Year’s vegetable stew with carrots, mushrooms and konnyaku, a grey, jelly-type thing with practically no calories and full of fiber. Click here  if you want to make it.

Before I end this blog post I also want to leave you with a few more really beautiful images from Spirited Away just in case you haven’t seen the movie maybe these will make you want to rent or buy this really beautiful movie filled with Japanese culture.


Works Cited

“Japanese Culture.” Japanese Culture | Inside Japan Tours,
“Japanese Culture – Culture of Japan.” Go Japan Go,
“Shinto.” Encyclopedia of Science and Religion,,
Miyazaki, Hayao. Spirited away.
“Spirited Away.” SparkNotes, SparkNotes,
“Understanding Shinto.”, 26 Jan. 2015,

Why Is Culture Important?


When discussing why culture is important it is important to understand the meaning of Culture. When I think about Culture, it describes a certain set of customs, ideas and social behavior of a group of similar people in a society in which they live and share together. Culture also happens to be determined by a person’s geographical border which usually segregates different cultures. Culture also shares some characteristics like language, religion, food habits, social norms, music, and arts.

Throughout the world, we have a variety of cultures. Cultures have been maintained because each person lives and is essentially handed their culture from one generation to another. Cultures also help people connect with each other and build communities with people who are within the same cultural backgrounds that they are in. Individuals belonging to the same culture are usually like-minded and have the same ancestral values, ideas, and traits.

Culture is important to us because as humans it defines our identity. Culture helps us understand what our values are. Culture helps form our ideas and thoughts. Culture also gives us the very meaning of life because culture is what makes us all unique. And while we may all come from many different parts of the world we are also all the same with many different experiences and ways of living our lives.

It is also important that we preserve our cultural heritage because what lies beneath all of our different cultures is a sense of belonging and unity each of our cultures offers to us. No matter who we are Cultural heritage and traditions serve as a link between us and our ancestors. The beliefs and laws laid down by the roots of our culture and the ancestors before us are meaningful which is why culture continues to live on with the many different people around the world.




What is Culture Shock?


If I’m being completely honest, I have never experience what culture shock mostly because I have not had many opportunities in my life to travel anywhere outside of the United States. So I believe that culture shock is an important subject to be aware of before going to another country where they have a different culture in the way they operate and live their lives.

So what exactly is culture shock? As defined by merriam-webster dictionary culture shock is a sense of confusion and uncertainty sometimes with feelings of anxiety that may affect people exposed to an alien culture or environment without adequate preparation.”


While there is a strict definition to what culture shock is as defined by the dictionary there are many people who believe that you can’t just use one definition to define what culture shock is. In the book The Five Stages Of Culture Shock by Paul Pederson he believes that their are five defining factors of what culture shock is, “because it is so subjective culture shock is hard to convey in rows of numbers or even statistically significant tendencies of “most” people.” So if this is so true then why are we able to go to a dictionary and look up the definition of what culture shock is? But if you go onto read more into depth in his book and other article such as Culture shock, what culture shock? by Omar Moufakkir you can see that when you discuss all five stages they can be put into one small definition for a bigger picture.

As shown in the image below all the five stage have the sense of being in a new environment in common. Culture Shock Diagram_1_0-1.png

Going to another place and environment can be fun and exciting but if you don’t prepare yourself for that new environment you can easily experience culture shock.

However it is found by Omar Moufakkir that, “today, we talk about culture fluidity, hybridity and fatigue. Cultures are no longer alien to each other. That is, in some contexts, it is the immigrant and the local who constitute the majority of exposures to intercultural contacts in today’s globalized world, not the tourist and the host.” Omar Moufakkir makes a good point, because we as a society are much more culturally aware of others and their culture, but when it comes to living in another culture and understanding how to live in another cultures community that when we as people really began to experience what culture shock is.


To conclude this blog post I want leave this image here:Culture-shock-infographic-header.jpg


Do you think that culture shock is a good experience?


works Cited

Culture Shock.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web.
Omar Moufakkir. “New Improved Off Campus Access! The Library Recently Upgraded Its Software so Accessing Library Resources from off Campus Is More Secure and Streamlined for You.” sage, n.d. Web.
Pedersen, Paul. The Five Stages of Culture Shock: Critical Incidents around the World. N.p.: Greenwood, 1995. Print.


What Is Culture?


Before I even begin to explore other cultures from around the world it is important to understand what culture is. As defined by, culture is “the quality in a person or society that arises froma concern for what isregarded as excellent inarts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.” As I looked at many other dictionary definitions I found that culture was defined the same. However when reading other ideas about culture I began to find that culture is much more than the definition in a dictionary. When searching the web far and wide to really understand what culture is I found a youtube video that helped me better understand culture.  By watching this video I found (linked below) that culture is more than just a definition, culture is something we as humans create.