In addition to what I mentioned last week, there are still some interesting cultural differences that I would like to share.
Based on my own observation, western people are relatively comfortable showing their bodies comparing with eastern people. After swimming at the school gym, I felt confused why there was not any shelf in the shower room that I could put my clothes. When I was still pondering over this question, I saw people walking by naked and then they just walked to their lockers to get their clothes. It was really surprising to me, because most eastern people like me are educated by parents and teachers in a way that our bodies are “private.” Therefore, we feel embarrassed when exposing our bodies in front of strangers even though in a private dressing room or going to places like hot springs. Obviously, it is a cultural difference where western people are educated that naked bodies are natural while eastern people are educated in a more conservative way. Again, it is nothing right or wrong.
In addition, the seam between the door and its frame in public restrooms in the United States are so huge comparing with that in Asia. I felt awkward and embarrassed sometimes because people standing outside could peep through the seam. For me, it was almost like an invasion of my privacy. According to some articles that I have read online, some say the seam is created on purpose to prevent people from doing illegal things in the restrooms, and others say that it is made of safety concerns, for if it is fully sealed, people is not able to discover whether people inside need any help when emergencies happen.
When I first arrived at the United States, there were a few things that I could not get used to. These things, in fact, reveal cultural differences between the West and the East which might interest you.
First of all, Americans rarely drink hot water no matter how freezing the weather is. It was extremely cold in January and it snowed a lot then, so I always wanted to get some hot water to warm up myself. However, I felt really confused when I could not find any water dispenser with hot water during my first few days here because there is a water dispenser with hot, warm, and cold water almost every corner at schools in Taiwan. Therefore, I do not need to boil the water by myself. It was not until I saw my roommates drinking ice water that I realized it was a cultural difference in essence. Thankfully, there is a microwave oven at my dorm that I could use to heat the water.
Second, most restrooms in shops or restaurants are locked. In order to use them, customers have to buy things in the stores to get the password from the staff. Some stores print the password on the receipt, but others do not. For the latter ones, customers have to ask the password from the staff in person. I could not get used to this custom at first especially I was in a hurry to use the restroom. In contrast, most stores in Taiwan offer free use of their restrooms. It was really convenient on one hand, but on the other hand, it sometimes places pressure on the staff when they need to clean up the dirty restrooms. Therefore, I understand why American people adopt this custom, for it ensures the customers a high-quality environment and it also promotes consumption.