Tag Archives: Culture

Western and Eastern Cultural Differences (2)

Standard

By minhsuanchen

    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.

Advertisements

Western and Eastern Cultural Differences (1)

Standard

By minhsuanchen

    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.

The Differences between GWU and My Home University (1)

Standard

By minhsuanchen

  Time really flies! It has already been two months since I arrived at GW for the exchange student program. Since I have stayed here for quite a while, according to my own observation, there are some interesting differences between students, courses, environment, etc., in my home university, National Chengchi University (NCCU), and George Washington University. Some of the differences are caused by the essential difference between Western and Eastern culture, and others are not. Just bear in mind that it is nothing right or wrong, but only distinctive ways of living.

Courses

    Before I go into details like teaching styles or approaches, I would like to tell you the difference between the length of a semester in GWU and NCCU first. In NCCU and most of the universities as well in Taiwan, a semester consists of 18 weeks. Within a semester, students have break time only on a few national holidays. That is, there is not a one-week spring break like GWU and most universities in the United States. Because of the relatively long semester, students in Taiwan often feel exhausted and discouraged during the final few weeks of a semester because they have already been stuffed with excessive knowledge and materials.

    In addition to the length of a semester, the teaching approaches professors take in GW are also slightly different from those in NCCU. From my own experience here, no matter in a big or small class, professors encourage students to raise their hands, convey their thoughts, and interact with them. Apparently, they lay much emphasis on the two-way learning. In other words, although professors are obviously more knowledgeable than students, they are also open-minded to learn things from their students and they believe the courses are designed for both the professors and students. Therefore, they have to work together throughout the whole semester to make full use of the class. On the contrary, in NCCU and most universities in Taiwan, even though there are still courses in which professors take the similar teaching strategies that I just mentioned, in most courses, professors adopt the traditional Eastern way of teaching. That is, they play the role of the authoritative lecture givers who are distant from their students. Especially in big classes with over 80 students, there is seldom interaction between the professor and students. Besides teaching approaches, students’ personalities might also have something to do with this phenomenon because Eastern people are raised up in the environment where “showing-off” is not encouraged. Gradually, they become more afraid of conveying their own ideas or feelings in public for fear of criticism or making mistakes.

  In brief, what I stated above are just my personal point of view according to my observation these days. Both of the teaching approaches have their merits and weaknesses, so they are not superior to one another. There are still some interesting differences between GWU and NCCU that I want to show you, so I will update them next week.

Dad’s visit

Standard

By geovolpe

When I announced to my family that I would see them in the summer after the end of my exchange year, and not over Christmas break, I knew that I had triggered something.

Like the United States, Italian society is very much family centered. Families are the first places of socialization for little humans. The process of growing up is overseen and supported emotionally and financially until little humans get bigger and ready to leave home. At which point, their independence causes their ties with the family to get thinner.

Kids in the US start taking up jobs to sustain themselves financially as soon as they enter college, and  once done with college they’re gone for good and ready to be independent. In Italy, this is not the case. Families try as hard as they can to preserve co-dependency with grown up kids. Hence the stereotype of the over-protective and extremely caring Italian Mamma. Italian parents have a tendency to cling to their children especially when they are getting independent. No wonder why the average age of adults leaving the family home for the first time in strikingly higher than the US. Even the average age for young adults to get their first job. Well, that’s also because the state of Italian economy is not very kind to young people at the moment. But I don’t want to get political now. I will, in due time: we have election on March the 4th, and I just requested my absentee ballot from the General Consulate of Italy in DC.

Lecture time is over. In light of these considerations, the point I was trying to make is that  I did not go see my family for Christmas, therefore my family is sending envoys to come see me.

On a short notice, my dad notified me of his arrival a week before. The funny bit is that he told me he would be staying for a month. As a matter of fact, as I write, he is still in the US. Not in D.C, but in New York. He came last weekend and remained until last Tuesday.

We didn’t do much, because of the bad weather. But we got to catch up on some stuff that I had put off. We went to Walmart and bought a table for the living room, a bunch of kitchen utensils, bathroom products and so on. Walmart is always an experience for us Europeans, and it was the first time for my dad as well.

Most importantly, from as empty as black hole, my fridge was replenished in a matter of hours thanks to my dad. And so was my stomach. I had forgotten how he is at cooking.

We also watched the Superbowl, but since we didn’t really know the rule of the game we got bored easily. On Monday, he came to visit me at work at the EU delegation.  Anyway, it was a very good weekend.

I love to see how Italian family bonds adjust to globalization.