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cycoris
2009-10-03, 08:29 PM
I just moved to the States in April after having lived in China for 10 years, and I feel like I'm reaching the end of the honeymoon stage. I'd like to at least have a bit of a sense of what I'm getting into before actual culture shock hits me full-fledged.

So, yeah. Please share any stories, advice, ideas &c. about dealing with culture shock and/or reverse culture shock.

purple gelatinous cube o' Doom
2009-10-04, 12:13 AM
What area of the US are you in. That info matters greatly in this discussion.

Syka
2009-10-04, 12:25 AM
You're in the NW, yes?

Area really does matter, each region (Southeast, Northeast, Midwest, Southwest, Northwest, etc) has their own...culture, pretty much. Northeasterners tend to be a little less sociable with strangers I've found, but more liberal in general. Midwest and the Southeast are well known for their religiosity, but they are a lot friendlier than, say, people in NYC. Of course this varies by the type of area within the region (cities tend to be more impersonal, towns more friendly, regardless of region), but I've still found small towns in the south to be more hospitible to strangers than small towns in the NE.

I think my biggest culture shock was NYC. I don't like all the metal and the few trees I saw (I think we stayed in the Manhatten area, so this may not hold for the entire city), the impersonality of it, and just how....robotic it seemed. No one made eye contact, or said hi, or anything. I've been raised in the South my whole life, some I'm used to talking to that person in front of me in line at the grocery store and smiling whenever I make eye contact (which is frequently).

I didn't experience AS much of this in Philly, and none of it in DC- people in DC were actually the friendliest of the big cities I've been in, excepting San Antonio, which equalled it. Not even Orlando or Tampa or other major Florida cities I've been to are as nice.

Regions make a huge difference, as does the type of environment. :)

cycoris
2009-10-04, 01:12 AM
Syka's correct, I'm in NE Oregon. And what little experience I've had with living in the States was in Wisconsin (I lived there from ages 1 to almost 6), and in Arkansas, where all my family is from.

But for me I think it's less region specific things that are starting to get to me, and more the fact that I'm having to make a paradigm shift from not blending in at all in China, to here where people expect me to know certain things or do things a certain way, and I end up confounding their expectations.

For instance, yesterday in my writing class I had to ask the professor if it was okay if I used British spelling, since that's what I usually use, and he gave me the funniest of looks, simply because my asking that made him re-evaluate a whole bunch of assumptions that he had made about me and my background. And sometimes I think it's nicer for it to be obvious that I don't really 'belong', so that I can just explain and everyone can get on with it, instead of me surprising people with it.

In China, people would cut me a bit of slack, because they would assume that I didn't know some of their customs &c. whereas here people will sometimes be irritated, impatient or just not understand that there's a reason that I'm asking questions or doing things differently.

Also, many people expect me to be having reverse culture shock, but I don't think I am. Since the last time that I lived here I was five, almost everything about my situation now is new and unfamiliar. And I'm having to get used to blending in, which is odd to say the least. :smalltongue:

Don Julio Anejo
2009-10-04, 01:33 AM
Okay, from your post I assume you're not actually Chinese, are you? Since if you were, it'd be, you know, obvious that you don't exactly blend in. Unless it's Vancouver or Toronto. Then you'd stand out if you were NOT Chinese.

But anyway... I assume people think you're American and you would normally know things a normal American 16 year old would know.

Your best bet is to tell every single person you know that you grew up in China. And no, you haven't lived in the States since you were little. So little in fact, that you don't have any memories.

Thatguyoverther
2009-10-04, 02:05 AM
I recommend taking a month out of school to watch every movie in you local library/video store and eat as much fast food as possible.

That should catch you up pretty fast.

zeratul
2009-10-04, 03:00 PM
I think my biggest culture shock was NYC. I don't like all the metal and the few trees I saw (I think we stayed in the Manhatten area, so this may not hold for the entire city), the impersonality of it, and just how....robotic it seemed. No one made eye contact, or said hi, or anything. I've been raised in the South my whole life, some I'm used to talking to that person in front of me in line at the grocery store and smiling whenever I make eye contact (which is frequently).


Yeah don't worry it doesn't apply to every part of the city. Since basically talking about a single section of New York city is like talking about a different city in terms of size amount of people and style. Certain areas have gorgeous parks and architecture, some areas are very ethnic and interesting in that respect (often having great food), some are incredibly commercial and make one feel as my brother said "like your walking inside of a Coca Cola Commercial". The last section seems to be what most people associate with New York City but this has less to do with what most of the city is like, and more to do with the fact that it is the area of New York most people visit. Also The Rest of New York state is completely different from the city in case anyone was wondering :smalltongue:.

Cobra_Ikari
2009-10-04, 05:02 PM
I recommend taking a month out of school to watch every movie in you local library/video store and eat as much fast food as possible.

That should catch you up pretty fast.

No, no, Rissy doesn't watch movies. =P

*hugs*...that said, I'm a bit confused on what culture shock really is. I've always had pretty different customs from the people around me...unless you're hanging out with pretty closed-minded people, it never really seems like a big problem?

Dallas-Dakota
2009-10-04, 05:07 PM
Get a foreign accent.:smalltongue:

I already got me a aussie accent in the case I move to either england/USA.:smallamused::smalltongue:

Dragonrider
2009-10-04, 05:09 PM
Cobra:

It's mostly

a) Not knowing what's the socially acceptable thing to do in many circumstances
b) Not knowing what's "normal" - anything from prices to whether you can cross the street against the light. Often overlaps with a).
c) Just feeling out of place.

It's kind of like being stuck in a game where you don't know the rules.

Cobra_Ikari
2009-10-04, 05:12 PM
Cobra:

It's mostly

a) Not knowing what's the socially acceptable thing to do in many circumstances
b) Not knowing what's "normal" - anything from prices to whether you can cross the street against the light. Often overlaps with a).
c) Just feeling out of place.

It's kind of like being stuck in a game where you don't know the rules.

>.>

Oh. I just make my own rules whenever that happens. >.>

Worked out pretty ok so far. =)

cycoris
2009-10-04, 05:18 PM
Get a foreign accent.:smalltongue:

I already got me a aussie accent in the case I move to either england/USA.:smallamused::smalltongue:

Hmm, I should look into this. Anyone got an accent that I can borrow? :smalltongue:


>.>

Oh. I just make my own rules whenever that happens. >.>

Worked out pretty ok so far. =)

I don't feel comfortable doing that, especially in academic/professional situations, which is what I'm really worried about. I'll never fit in social situations anyhow, I've resigned myself to that fact loooong ago.

Coidzor
2009-10-04, 05:32 PM
^: No. That's a bad mental thought behavior pattern belief to hold. 'tis one of those things we call self-fulfilling prophecies.

Hmm... There's probably etiquette books out there...

I know that there's some material out there like that from some of the English as a Second Language sections of libraries I've examined. And I've seen some geared towards those of SE/E asian origins. Just to help adjust to american culture.

So your best bet would be to get a tutorial from your hippie host family about the nature of the hippies in your area and just accept that they're but one of several cultures you may come into contact with. And then search out for reading material/websites along the lines of helping others adapt to life here.

Might be something the state department puts out that you can check into.

Starshade
2009-10-04, 05:55 PM
Well, several work imigrants in my country, Norway , as from Pakistan, expected in the 80's and 90's to work for, say, 10 years and return home to their 'home country'. Some did, some didnt. A lot of returning ppl came back again.

What happened was the ppl came in their early 20's, say married, a couple coming together, and got jobs. Their kids was growing up, parents expected to go back, and kids learned the language, religion, and was in a immigrant enviroment with other 1. generation imigrants with parents from their "home country".

What happened, all of the kids had with them so much cultural baggage,when parents wanted them to go back, they essentially now are Norwegians. Its not a language thing (or about economy, poor vs rich country), since some of them can speak Urdu to some degree, they simply think as norwegians. Even the parents have learned so much of this country, they no longer think totally as ppl from their old country.
And the kids cant imagine going to parents home contry in some cases. Partly in my example, its a poorer country, but, they dont want to.

I dont know China to any degree at all, personally, but if you have lived in China from age 5 to 15, USA must seem a bit strange sometime. Ive not personally been in either USA or China, so i can't judge wery well what to expect. My first thought, is if you dont remember at all living in USA, it must be a bit strange.


Btw: your language, if you moved at 5-6 ish, i assume you more or less learned Chinese as a second language? Sharing the local language is one of the local 1. gen immigrants issues, the kids of the immigrants who faced the parents wishes to go back, had grown up from birth here, and think, speak, dream and live totally in Norwegian, so of course they wont feel like going back.
My thoughts, is if you want to be in USA for your school, and for how long you want to, and feel confortable language wise (not about spelling, but speaking, living using it), i think the rest will come with time. :smallsmile:

Katana_Geldar
2009-10-04, 06:01 PM
The spelling thing as well as measurement have been the cause of many, many arguments with Americans on the Net. I have the impression that there's a bit of pride attached to their different spelling which no one else uses but them.

But there are better things to get angry about.

Coidzor
2009-10-04, 06:07 PM
Well, it's only ****** who care either way, really. Unless you're writing for something other than a writing or literature professor, in which case there's this little thing called spellcheck which will go off on your british spelling and offer the american version.

toasty
2009-10-04, 07:57 PM
The spelling thing as well as measurement have been the cause of many, many arguments with Americans on the Net. I have the impression that there's a bit of pride attached to their different spelling which no one else uses but them.

But there are better things to get angry about.

Don't the Canadians using American spelling? (Honest question).

I use American spelling, but I hate the English Measurement system. Its evil and should die. (Note: I'm an American. I've lived overseas all my life).

@OP: Sorry, can't help you. Never lived in America myself so I'll be going through this entire thing next year when I go off to college. :smallsigh:

Fiendish_Dire_Moose
2009-10-04, 08:17 PM
My life:
Born in Missouri.
Moved to California, they threatened to hold me back every year from kindergarten through 3rd grade because I wasn't learning. NOONE in the classroom, not even the teacher, spoke English. And yet noone could figure out why I wasn't learning. Public school is $%^&.
When I was 7 I moved to Japan. Fun times were had, even though I never knew where I was.
When I was 10 I moved to a suburb of Chicago. I was the only white person in the school, teachers included. And yes, the racism was heaped upon me. Constantly, by teacher and student alike.
When I was 14 I moved to Bremerton WA. The first thing I thought was, "This is how white people act? Can I go back to Japan?"

So, Culture shock sucks. Trust me I know, I've been dealing with it my entire life.
However the two years in Japan made my summer trip this year rather easy ^_^.
Anyway, as far as what to expect from America? Expect retards. Everywhere, and expect to feel like you're drowning in them.

Solaris
2009-10-04, 08:18 PM
It's been my experience, living in the Midwest as I have, that Americans are some of the friendliest people on Earth once you get past our eccentricities and narrow-mindedness about some things. But hey, at least they got us to quite doing witch-burnings in public.
Then again, the only ones I have to compare us to are the Iraqis... Who are, themselves, hugely hospitable people if they like you and stupid-dangerous if they don't. What can I say? Humans are crazy wherever they are.

I'd think that one thing you'll have to get used to is people being interested in your life story. After all, it's not every day that you meet someone who was born in America, moved and lived in China, then moved back to America. Write a book. I'd probably buy it. You must forgive me for referring to you as American-Chinese (as opposed to a Chinese immigrant to the US who's Chinese-American), as that seems a handy shorthand.
You're used to being the outsider in a country that embraces conformism (at least, from what I've heard it does). Now you're a pseudo-outsider in a country that embraces pseudo-differences. Sure, some people are narrow-minded dolts. Everyone deals with those twerps, especially in school. Trust me, it ends... eventually.
Don't look at this as a problem, look at it as an opportunity. You're the new kid, yes? The only baggage you have is what you saddle yourself with. Don't expect us Yanks to treat you the same way as the Chinese did. Yes, they'll look at you funny if you don't get everything about our culture right away, but I've lived here twenty-one years and there are things about our culture that make me go "Huh." Don't worry about it. You'll catch on, especially if you follow the advice about doing a bit of reading into our society.


The spelling thing as well as measurement have been the cause of many, many arguments with Americans on the Net. I have the impression that there's a bit of pride attached to their different spelling which no one else uses but them.

But there are better things to get angry about.

Eh, you have your queen, we have our spelling.

There are not, and I'll fight to the death if you say otherwise.[/joke]

Fiendish_Dire_Moose
2009-10-04, 08:38 PM
Eh, you have your queen, we have our spelling.

There are not, and I'll fight to the death if you say otherwise.[/joke]
You can't fight them to the death, I'M fighting YOU to the death for assuming I didn't want to be in on this fight!


I am going to have to echo Sol here, and paraphrase by saying, "Stay the eff away from teens". They're freaking idiots! No offense guys, but when you're skate boarding in the middle of the road at midnight, don't get pissed when I honk my horn.
American culture changes every week, it won't be hard for you to settle into your area.

Moff Chumley
2009-10-04, 10:00 PM
Talk to teachers/professors outside of class. Explain your situation. They should be understanding. Also, don't worry too much about making a fool of yourself. I've been doing it since day one, and despite having been diagnosed with half my shrink's list, I'm a relatively socially content person. You'll make friends, inevitably, and they can help you. No matter how unlikely it seems, someone'll pop up. :smallsmile:

Don Julio Anejo
2009-10-04, 10:09 PM
No offense guys, but when you're skate boarding in the middle of the road at midnight, don't get pissed when I honk my horn.
You're too nice. The one time I ran into them, I turned off my headlights, pulled up to within like 4 feet (from the dark side of the street when their off-key punk "music" was playing) and THEN honked. Good times..

Don't the Canadians using American spelling? (Honest question).

Nope. We use British spelling. And speak American English... Weird, eh?

Tyrant
2009-10-04, 10:11 PM
Anyway, as far as what to expect from America? Expect retards. Everywhere, and expect to feel like you're drowning in them.
Really? There seem to be a fair number of Americans on this forum and I haven't come across one yet that I thought was retarded. The only people I have met (IRL) that came across as retarded were actually retarded. Generalise much?

KerfuffleMach2
2009-10-04, 10:12 PM
At least for understanding professional etiquettes, find info on interview procedures. Your school should have something, whether it's in the library or the counseling office. A lot of the stuff they say for interviews applies fairly well to the rest of the professional world.

Learning local people interactions. Hmm...try spending time in a local mall. Just watch people, see how they interact with each other. Should help you understand what the normal routines are.

Solaris
2009-10-04, 10:14 PM
Really? There seem to be a fair number of Americans on this forum and I haven't come across one yet that I thought was retarded. The only people I have met (IRL) that came across as retarded were actually retarded. Generalise much?

Trickery and lies. I love my country, but God in Heaven we have some stupid, stupid people here. They're stealthy-stupid, too. They'll sound smart enough, but when you start talking to them you realize you could picture them sitting next to a chimp banging rocks together. We're the people who invented political correctness, remember?

KerfuffleMach2
2009-10-04, 10:27 PM
Trickery and lies. I love my country, but God in Heaven we have some stupid, stupid people here. They're stealthy-stupid, too. They'll sound smart enough, but when you start talking to them you realize you could picture them sitting next to a chimp banging rocks together. We're the people who invented political correctness, remember?

I would like to second this, sadly.

I work a customer service job. And most of the people there make me sad. For there are quite a few stupid people.

Let's put it this way. The company I work for rents moving trucks. And we get, on average, one person a week trying to rent something, and they don't have a license.

I rest my case.

Tyrant
2009-10-04, 10:32 PM
Trickery and lies. I love my country, but God in Heaven we have some stupid, stupid people here. They're stealthy-stupid, too. They'll sound smart enough, but when you start talking to them you realize you could picture them sitting next to a chimp banging rocks together. We're the people who invented political correctness, remember?
I'm not saying there aren't stupid people, because there most definately are in this country. What I am saying is that we're not exactly drowning in waves of retardation. What we are drowning in is 24 hour news channels that typically only cover this country so they have to fill the other 23 hours when nothing is going on. They fill the rest of their program schedules with whoever can yell the loudest or whoever is best at completely ignoring facts and common sense. These people do not represent the country. Their "guests" who engage in what now passes for debate do not represent this country. I've never met anyone who thinks they do and I live in a tiny town in southern Indiana.

Edit to add:

I would like to second this, sadly.

I work a customer service job. And most of the people there make me sad. For there are quite a few stupid people.

Let's put it this way. The company I work for rents moving trucks. And we get, on average, one person a week trying to rent something, and they don't have a license.

I rest my case.
How many trucks do you rent in a week? 5? 10? At 5, 20% of your customers are somewhat stupid. At 10 it's 10%. 1 stupid customer a week is nothing.

You want to play the generalising game, try this. A town 15 miles down the road from me has a certain issue that appears in the police reports on a near nightly basis. They have hispanic drivers that they pull over (occasionally for drunk driving no less) who have no license or insurance. They are typically released and told to show up for court. Now, if I were to generalise, I could say hispanics clearly have no regard for the laws of this country. I would of course be wrong, but that's what's going on here. If anyone here really thinks other countries don't have numerous idiots, they are fooling themselves. They have them, they just don't have quite as many outlets. 50% of the population is below average intelligence after all.

Solaris
2009-10-04, 10:39 PM
I'm not saying there aren't stupid people, because there most definately are in this country. What I am saying is that we're not exactly drowning in waves of retardation. What we are drowning in is 24 hour news channels that typically only cover this country so they have to fill the other 23 hours when nothing is going on. They fill the rest of their program schedules with whoever can yell the loudest or whoever is best at completely ignoring facts and common sense. These people do not represent the country. Their "guests" who engage in what now passes for debate do not represent this country. I've never met anyone who thinks they do and I live in a tiny town in southern Indiana.

Okay, you have a point there.

Do not, under any circumstances, confuse the American media for the American people. Even we think our media are amoral, disgusting, and crude. I should've thought of that - I've actually had to correct some Iraqis on the subject.

KerfuffleMach2
2009-10-04, 10:44 PM
How many trucks do you rent in a week? 5? 10? At 5, 20% of your customers are somewhat stupid. At 10 it's 10%. 1 stupid customer a week is nothing.

You want to play the generalising game, try this. A town 15 miles down the road from me has a certain issue that appears in the police reports on a near nightly basis. They have hispanic drivers that they pull over (occasionally for drunk driving no less) who have no license or insurance. They are typically released and told to show up for court. Now, if I were to generalise, I could say hispanics clearly have no regard for the laws of this country. I would of course be wrong, but that's what's going on here. If anyone here really thinks other countries don't have numerous idiots, they are fooling themselves. They have them, they just don't have quite as many outlets. 50% of the population is below average intelligence after all.

Actually, probably about 60-120 trucks a week.

And that's just an example of one kind of stupidity. We get people who try to rent trailers without hitches, people who don't seem to want to understand that they have to pay for a rental, people who try to light a cigarette right next to an 1800 gallon propane tank, and much more.

Tyrant
2009-10-04, 10:49 PM
Actually, probably about 60-120 trucks a week.

And that's just an example of one kind of stupidity. We get people who try to rent trailers without hitches, people who don't seem to want to understand that they have to pay for a rental, people who try to light a cigarette right next to an 1800 gallon propane tank, and much more.
And I am sure in all the world you are not alone in those problems. Why do you think only Americans would do those things?

Dragonrider
2009-10-04, 11:15 PM
Learning local people interactions. Hmm...try spending time in a local mall. Just watch people, see how they interact with each other. Should help you understand what the normal routines are.

Since cycoris doesn't appear to be around, I'll speak for her and say that there is no mall where she lives. :smalltongue: The nearest one is an hour and a half drive away.


Trickery and lies. I love my country, but God in Heaven we have some stupid, stupid people here. They're stealthy-stupid, too. They'll sound smart enough, but when you start talking to them you realize you could picture them sitting next to a chimp banging rocks together. We're the people who invented political correctness, remember?

Americans are no stupider than anyone else. Every country has its geniuses and idiots. It's a backwards kind of ethnocentric to think that we're the only ones who are this way. :smallamused:

Cruxador
2009-10-04, 11:20 PM
And I am sure in all the world you are not alone in those problems. Why do you think only Americans would do those things?
I'm sure there's dumb folks everywhere, but I've never heard of a European doing things like that...

Solaris
2009-10-04, 11:21 PM
50% of the population is below average intelligence after all.

Untrue! 50% of the population is below median intelligence.

Cobra_Ikari
2009-10-04, 11:23 PM
It would be far more correct to say that people, as a whole, tend to be idiots. It'd probably also be accurate to say that idiots tend to keep company with idiots.

America is just famous for its idiot cliques.

Mando Knight
2009-10-04, 11:28 PM
Hmm, I should look into this. Anyone got an accent that I can borrow? :smalltongue:

Prussian. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Prussia) Becoz ve haf veys hof makink hyu tok.

...Of course, it'll sound weirder the farther you are from a place with a high concentration of of those with German/Polish/Prussian descent...

Solaris
2009-10-04, 11:51 PM
A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky animals.


Prussian. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Prussia) Becoz ve haf veys hof makink hyu tok.

...Of course, it'll sound weirder the farther you are from a place with a high concentration of of those with German/Polish/Prussian descent...

No, no, even in places that're about 70-80% Germanic it still sounds weird.
Ahh, good ol' Midwest US.

Mando Knight
2009-10-04, 11:52 PM
No, no, even in places that're about 70-80% Germanic it still sounds weird.
Ahh, good ol' Midwest US.

Yes, but the awkwardness only grows the farther you get from the Midwest.

Fiendish_Dire_Moose
2009-10-05, 01:41 AM
Really? There seem to be a fair number of Americans on this forum and I haven't come across one yet that I thought was retarded. The only people I have met (IRL) that came across as retarded were actually retarded. Generalise much?

Actually I have yet to meet very many smart people out in the real world. So, if I generalise, I'm doing so BECAUSE I LIVE IN AMERICA, and I'm experienced at feeling like I'm drowning in morons.

Fiendish_Dire_Moose
2009-10-05, 01:46 AM
And I am sure in all the world you are not alone in those problems. Why do you think only Americans would do those things?

Funny, the six weeks I spent in Japan, which by the way, smoking is pretty much still allowed EVERYWHERE, I didn't see a single person doing anything CLOSE to that stupid. Well, I did, DUI on an American military base*. But guess what nationality that person was.

*When a foreigner commits a crime in Japan, they are immediately sent back to their homeland btw.**

**Sorry for the double post.

Tyrant
2009-10-05, 09:32 AM
Actually I have yet to meet very many smart people out in the real world. So, if I generalise, I'm doing so BECAUSE I LIVE IN AMERICA, and I'm experienced at feeling like I'm drowning in morons.
I do as well and I have yet to meet anyone that was anywhere near what I would call retarded that wasn't actually retarded. I'm sorry things obviously suck for you, but the whole country isn't like that. Not even half the country is like that. Again, you're generalising and if you read my post about that you can see what kind of stupidity that can lead people to believe, like you are doing now.

Funny, the six weeks I spent in Japan, which by the way, smoking is pretty much still allowed EVERYWHERE, I didn't see a single person doing anything CLOSE to that stupid. Well, I did, DUI on an American military base*. But guess what nationality that person was.

*When a foreigner commits a crime in Japan, they are immediately sent back to their homeland btw.**

**Sorry for the double post.
So, you spend 6 weeks in a country and didn't see a single native person do anything stupid? Were you on that US base the entire time? Again, you guys have lovely examples that statistically prove absolutely nothing. 1 person tries to rent a truck without a license from 60-120 attempts. Big deal. 1 guy on a military base does something stupid in a 6 week period, out of how many soldiers? Again, big deal. Maybe you're too busy looking for the idiots to see the overwhelming majority of people who aren't behaving like idiots. Following my previous example, I could claim hispanics are lawless, dangerous drivers. I've got the same kind of anectodal evidence to back up my claim. The difference is I know it's not true and don't have some kind of reason to hate on them that makes me overlook the majority who do follow the laws.

As for the still allowing smoking point, what is your point? And the sending foreigners home point, I am pretty sure we do that too for a number of crimes after they serve jail/prison time here.

Kcalehc
2009-10-05, 09:56 AM
I moved to the US from the UK a couple years ago, and the culture shock was mild (having approximately the same language helped*).

Tipping bothered me a lot, and still does to some extent; it's generally not as prevalent in the UK for many services. For some reason I am uncomfortable giving extra money to someone for doing the job that they are paid to do already (though I do understand that some jobs pay deliberately low to account for tips - which again seems odd to me).


As for advice, generally follow the crowd, and observe how the majority of people act. It's not always going to be right, but unless it's illegal the worst that'll happen is someone will call you a name (at least in the more civil/public parts anyways).



*I first came across as a student, and my professors at first would not accept my English spellings. My argument was, that I was not wrong, but had a different right.

HereticNox
2009-10-05, 10:29 AM
I never knew that tipping was an American cultural habit. Maybe it has to do with the American mindset of being rewarded constantly.

Roland St. Jude
2009-10-05, 10:32 AM
Sheriff of Moddingham: Tread carefully in this discussion. It seems to invite political comments and comments that insult other posters, albeit collectively. Please be positive and constructive.

Quincunx
2009-10-05, 10:41 AM
Nooooooooooooooooooooo it does not. There is an American cultural habit to assume all things can be solved/expressed through money (I'll return to this in a bit), but the main reason we tip is that people who receive tips, waiters and the like, can be legally paid a less-than-minimum, less-than-livable wage, and frequently are. The UK, to its eternal credit, used to do this but abolished that law loophole less than one week ago.

Don't not tip out of some moral stance. The moral stance for fighting the system by kicking the people the system is already mugging in a dark alley is not one to hold.

Returning to money as a universal constant, that IS an American cultural habit, and it was a culture shock to move out of the U.S. and realize there were some items I simply could not buy in my present locale. Can't afford it? Quite used to that. Can't get it now that I have money? Inconceivable!


I'm sure there's dumb folks everywhere, but I've never heard of a European doing things like that...

That's mostly because we don't speak European languages and they don't bother translating their idiots. The more I learn of a foreign language, the less intelligent its speakers collectively sound. (OK, so practicing language skills on the informal chatter of "Overheard in. . ." websites will skew the sample. . .)

Atreyu the Masked LLama
2009-10-05, 10:55 AM
I love my culture. Its gots its faults, sure, but I can't think of a culture that doesn't. Well....maybe Canada.

The only other culture I have ever experienced is Canadian culture. I loved it, as well. There was a huge culture shock when I saw the price of gas and the speed limit. I thought everything was super cheap and people drove faster but more carefully. Turns out I was being tricked by the Metric system. Still, it was a wonderful experience and I need to go back.

Telonius
2009-10-05, 11:07 AM
I didn't see a single person doing anything CLOSE to that stupid.

Try going anywhere else in the world while the World Cup is on. I had the good fortune to be in Germany in 2002 ... :smallbiggrin:

A lot of the "idiot American tourist" thing comes from lack of practice speaking other languages. In the US, you can travel to forty-nine states (fifty if you hop over to Hawaii), one district, and 12 of 13 provinces and territories across a whole continent and not ever have to speak anything other than English. That's the equivalent of about 63 or 64 European-sized countries available for travel. If you're in Europe and traveling, you know for a fact that you're going to a place that has another language, and therefore has totally different assumptions about how everything works. So when you go a hundred miles from your home city, you're more aware of what's going on around you because you have to.

Back to culture shock, though. I definitely experienced "re-entry" after I got back from studying in Germany for that semester. I was behind on movies, had no idea what happened in my favorite shows, had been away from my friends, and basically felt like I had to play catch-up for a good six months. The important thing is to not let that bother you. Just go out and do the things you enjoy. Meet people, learn things. It's going to be different from where you just were; realize that and don't get mad when it happens. You can't expect Americans to be like Chinese, any more than you can expect Chinese to be like Americans.

EDIT: Regarding tipping, Quin's right. Another justification I've heard is that it's supposed to encourage better service. Having been to some European restaurants, there might be something to that. But tipping is one of a few different professions in the customer service jobs that are more "performance" based than salary or wage-based. In fancy restaurants, the coat-man and the valet (to an American, "valet" means the guy who parks your car for you) are supposed to be tipped as well. In some places it's standard to tip the hairdresser. In other industries, commissions are also common. It happens most in sales (car salesmen are the prime example), but CEO bonuses are supposed to work on the same principle.

cycoris
2009-10-05, 11:41 AM
Back to culture shock, though. I definitely experienced "re-entry" after I got back from studying in Germany for that semester. I was behind on movies, had no idea what happened in my favorite shows, had been away from my friends, and basically felt like I had to play catch-up for a good six months. The important thing is to not let that bother you. Just go out and do the things you enjoy. Meet people, learn things. It's going to be different from where you just were; realize that and don't get mad when it happens. You can't expect Americans to be like Chinese, any more than you can expect Chinese to be like Americans.

Moving away from the whole 'Americans are or aren't idiots' discussion...

What you're describing is reverse culture shock, which is basically when you expect things to feel like home but they're not the way that you remembered them being. Whereas at this point I don't really have any expectations, I just flat out don't have any idea what anything is/should be like, and it's very nervous-making.

I try not to expect Americans to be like Chinese, but often I'll treat them as such simply because I have ten years of habits telling me to. :smalleek::smallfrown:

Starshade
2009-10-05, 12:10 PM
The rules for tipping waiters is a good example of how different the different countries can be.
In norway, noone expects to get tips, and the supposed standard tip is 3% of the sum of the bill paid. Its standardized tax of 3% extra salary too, if the waiters dont confirm their exact sum of tips, who could be a lot lower.
Personally, ive never given tips, and never would be expected to by anyone i meet in scandinavia, be it waiters or at hotels.
And since ive not done it, i dont feel i know what to give, if i was too. :smalltongue:

But, i got another example: gifts too people in other firms, though job. In China, you got a different business culture than in scandinavia, and i know of ppl who have had to adjust to giving gifts in china, pay expenses to ppl they meet trough job(paying for trips to caraoke bars, i think it was), etc. Who is, here, illegal. :smallamused:
What is good, ethical behaviour in a firm in china, is illegal corruption here. And to not follow the local customs, would be quite rude in some cases, making foregin relations to business partners interesting. :smallamused:

Btw Cycoris: Im a bit curious, what is most different about americans and chinese? As far i can understand, i would guess it might be a bit different in how they communicate, being polite, etc?

TheBibliophile
2009-10-05, 12:58 PM
I just moved to the States in April after having lived in China for 10 years, and I feel like I'm reaching the end of the honeymoon stage. I'd like to at least have a bit of a sense of what I'm getting into before actual culture shock hits me full-fledged.

So, yeah. Please share any stories, advice, ideas &c. about dealing with culture shock and/or reverse culture shock.

Hey, I'm in kinda the same situation. I lived in China most of my life, and have just moved to Scotland a year ago.

I don't really have anything to say, except this: it might be just me, but I find it really hard to make friends after moving to a new country. You might get very lonely, but persevere. Doing a lot of activities in the evenings helped me a lot with making friends.

I just realised that I'm looking at this from a kid's perspective, whereas I think you're probably an adult. Ignore this post.

Dragonrider
2009-10-05, 01:05 PM
I just realised that I'm looking at this from a kid's perspective, whereas I think you're probably an adult. Ignore this post.

She's 16.

(Sorry, cycoris, I'll stop saying things for you. :smallbiggrin:)


@Starshade: I believe in the States 10-15 percent tip is customary.

Quincunx
2009-10-05, 01:32 PM
All I know are U.S. restaurants. Tip in cash if you can, even if the bill was paid by card--part of those weaselly practices with tip income and sub-minimum wages are harder for the employer to do with cash-in-hand tips.

<= 1/10 <= 10% = minimal tip. The waiter screwed up but you got food eventually.
1/8 = 12.5% = acceptable tip (often automatically added to bills of groups greater than 6 or 8 people). The food might have been slow to arrive, but that was the kitchen's fault, as the waiter kept you supplied with the drinks and other things waiters can control. If you're not American, this is the tip level to use.
1/7 or 1/6 = generous tip. Your special order was correct, or you used to be slogging along in this job and sympathize, or your dessert was mysteriously 'comped' (no charge) when there wasn't a complaint with it.
1/5 = 20% = above and beyond the call of duty. If you enlisted the waiter in a scheme to surprise someone else at the table (i.e. putting a gift you brought on top of a dessert), or the waiter arranged for a taxi home if you've had too much to drink, tip this much.

GoC
2009-10-05, 02:06 PM
Heh. I remember the culture shock of my move to the UK last year.:smallamused:
Wasn't as bad as it could have been as I'd been here before when I was twelve but there were still a lot of things that surprised me...
I really ought to have recorded them all.

PS: When it comes to stupid countrymen it's not about "how much?" it's about "what type?". Most of the Britons and Colombians I've met have been what I'd consider stupid but they're stupid in different ways (this is so hard to explain that I'm not going to try).

Pika...
2009-10-05, 03:08 PM
I am not sure if this counts, but I am a Hispanic American who got culture shocked when my distant family started to move over here from their country.

I grew up assimilated (a term they taught me in my teaching college classes) completely into the American culture, and have been fortunate to have been exposed to many forms of people. The one exception was ironically the Hispanic culture, since as some here might know when you are a minority in this country and you do not "act it" you are basically banished (at best).

I proudly am called "white washed", to the point that a ghetto wappenese African American D&D buddy of mine would say "I could throw bleach on you and you wouldn't get lighter". :smallbiggrin:

Anyway, then my distant family started coming over after their country started getting even worse, and I was suddenly exposed to their culture. And no, it is NOT MY culture just because my parents come from there, and I share their skin color.

It was pretty unusual for me, since as explained in multiple classes in college American families are nuclear (it focuses on the children, parents, and maybe grandparents), while Hispanic families focus on (I forget the term) the extended family where kids constantly hang out with their second, third, or even fourth or fifth cousins weekly. Needless to say after a few years I am still overloaded.

It is at the point where if I come home and there is no one home at night time I will often just drive around my neighborhood and the two neighboring ones and pass by each of my relatives houses to see if someone is having a party or birthday celebration. :smallconfused:

As someone who is on one side (the American perspective), but is occasionally able to peak into another (my family's perspective) I find one piece of contradictory stereotyping. Hispanics stereotype American parents and families as not caring about each other/their kids (they mention American parents "kicking out" their kids at age 18, and family only seeing each other at family reunions once a year), and Americans stereotype Hispanics with the whole thirty people living in one house thing. I have tried explaining to my family multiple times the reasons of the cultural differences (Hispanics require family to survive in their hellish countries, and tend to bundle together for support when they immigrate here, while American families do not usually need to do such things), but I have given up. :smallfrown:


Yeah. Aside from a few loving aunts and a cool uncle I do not get along well with my foreign cousins. I can tell that they don't see me as one of them. It really is like we are alien in our way of thinking and acting, even if we look alike (my sci-fi geekness entering there).

742
2009-10-06, 04:10 PM
try wearing a big funny hat or weird makeup (by that i mean war paint or geisha, something obviously from another culture that isnt normal looking) and talk with an unidentifiable accent. that should stop any expectations of you blending in.

Thatguyoverther
2009-10-06, 04:16 PM
try wearing a big funny hat or weird makeup (by that i mean war paint or geisha, something obviously from another culture that isnt normal looking) and talk with an unidentifiable accent. that should stop any expectations of you blending in.

Don't forget to scream obscenities and insert nudity at random intervals. Failing that arson is pretty cool.

Wait, what were we talking about?

cycoris
2009-10-06, 04:34 PM
She's 16.

(Sorry, cycoris, I'll stop saying things for you. :smallbiggrin:)


It's okay, I don't mind. ...Usually... :smallbiggrin:

I'm thinking of wearing a sign around my neck that says 'Not 100% American'. Or maybe a t-shirt? :smallamused:

varthalon
2009-10-06, 04:58 PM
Its kind of curious, I've travelled all over the world and have experienced some interesting culture shocks (usually in terms of different or absent hygiene) but the biggest shock was when I was fairly young and moved for the first time from the small rural western town I grew up to urban Washington DC.

I knew all the cops in my home town by name (no, no... because there wasn't that many of them not because I was always in trouble) and they spent their days in their cruisers doing patrols or speed traps unless they were called to respond to something. The first several times I walked into a convenience store in DC I was wondering if there had just been a crime or if the cop was shopping... it took me awhile to figure out that he was actually stationed there... that it was his entire job to guard THAT convenience store.

It was also a shock to go grocery shopping. In my home town the cashier would slide your item across the scanner and right into a shopping bag nine times out of ten in a single fluid motion. DC supermarket cashiers always seem to take 2-3 tries to scan an item then sit there looking at it for awhile like a microwave dinner is something they have never seen before before putting it into a bag. Boy was I grateful when self-checkout hit supermarkets. Drove me bonkers watching and realizing that I, who wasn't even trained as a cashier, could do their freak'n job in half the time they were taking.

Another bit of DC culture shock was news anchors on TV. They were much less polished and professional than the much smaller station news people that I'd grown up with. I still don't understand how these guys (and gals) who are probably much more 'respected' in their field and much better paid can't seem to get through an hours news without missing some line on the teleprompter or horrifically mangling the pronunciation of some name... and then rather than smoothing things over and moving on they fumble around drawing MUCH more attention to their mistake.

The oddest bit of NOT culture shock was racial. My home town had ONE black family (great folks, recent immigrants from South Africa) and a light smattering of other races. Only twice did being a white minority become an issue for me in DC. Once at lunch with a bunch of friends (most of whom happened to be black) I tossed out the N-word as casually as they had all been doing (they got a good laugh out of it because they knew I didn't know what I was doing - but it made sure I'd never do it again) and once I went to a Spike Lee movie at Union station and after the movie realized that not only was I the only white guy there, but I was the only non-black person there which kind of shocked my perception a little.

Katana_Geldar
2009-10-06, 05:16 PM
Regarding tipping, Quin's right. Another justification I've heard is that it's supposed to encourage better service. Having been to some European restaurants, there might be something to that. But tipping is one of a few different professions in the customer service jobs that are more "performance" based than salary or wage-based. In fancy restaurants, the coat-man and the valet (to an American, "valet" means the guy who parks your car for you) are supposed to be tipped as well. In some places it's standard to tip the hairdresser. In other industries, commissions are also common. It happens most in sales (car salesmen are the prime example), but CEO bonuses are supposed to work on the same principle.

I thought tipping was because the minimum wage was crap.

Pyrian
2009-10-06, 06:05 PM
I thought tipping was because the minimum wage was crap.Nah, the minimum wage for tipped professions is terrible because of tipping. That egg definitely preceded the chicken, as tipping predates minimum wage laws.

Compare two hypothetical waiters making the same amount of money; one gets a reasonable wage, but generally no tips, and the other gets standard tips and a cruddy wage. Either one of those waiters can make a bit extra with really good service, although I suspect the tip-based one will find that a bit easier. However, the latter is in real trouble if his service falters; his tips can drop straight from the opinion of the customer! The former only needs to worry insofar as he keeps his job, he'll still make wage.

Katana_Geldar
2009-10-06, 06:16 PM
And I guess in a non-tipping culture, such as here, there's the assumption that you'll still have your job despite your service or lack ther of.

Nice.

Coidzor
2009-10-06, 07:29 PM
I'm sure there's dumb folks everywhere, but I've never heard of a European doing things like that...

<_< *cough* soccer hooligans...

Solaris
2009-10-06, 07:36 PM
It's okay, I don't mind. ...Usually... :smallbiggrin:

I'm thinking of wearing a sign around my neck that says 'Not 100% American'. Or maybe a t-shirt? :smallamused:

Nah, I don't think that's such a good idea. While the West coast seems to be a bit more tolerant of it, some could misconstrue that to mean you're anti-American, being that you look like an ordinary teenaged American girl. Teachers, in particular, like to take things entirely beyond where they should.
Ahh, political correctness. You'll enjoy encountering that little bit of American culture.

My advice would be to pick up some American friends and hang out with them for a while to observe them in their native state, so to speak. Good places to start looking would be school clubs (if any) that harbor similar interests to you. Barring that? The theater's stage crew. Trust me, they're a bunch of geeks and generally good people to hang out with.

Stormthorn
2009-10-06, 08:29 PM
I didn't experience AS much of this in Philly, and none of it in DC- people in DC were actually the friendliest of the big cities I've been in, excepting San Antonio, which equalled it. Not even Orlando or Tampa or other major Florida cities I've been to are as nice.

San Fransisco is nice.

But she said Oregon and well...they dont always get along well with Californians like me. I only ever go their on rare occasion to see my great aunt.


Hmm, I should look into this. Anyone got an accent that I can borrow?
Most american movies come out of Cali. So my accent is essentialy that of movie stars.

Hmm. Culture shock. Never really something i think about. I live in the center of the central valley, and in a single day at work i will see people from the Ukraine, Korea, Japan, Mexico, India and elsewhere. I hear them speaking their native languages and their own accented versions of English.

thorgrim29
2009-10-06, 08:47 PM
I remember when I moved in France (I was what, 10 at the time....) what helped me absorb the culture was tv. A few news channels, and comedies (and a comedy news channel). Then I went to school and gradually picked up the rest. Going back home 4 years later was considerably easier, but 6 years later I still use some expressions no one has ever heard. It only gets worse when I'm with people not as educated as I and my friends are. Basically, my advice is:

-try to get a working knowledge of what's going on, to be able to actually talk to folk, but don't be afraid to be different, you're who you are, and are shaped by your life, and nothing is wrong with that.

-Generally speaking, the people worth your attention will be interested by your experience, those who make fun of you for it are jerks and douches (subtle difference) and aren't worth your time

-However, just remember to let the others talk, I'm sure you could talk about China all day, but there is a time and a place, and they're called conversations, not soliloquies.

-Other then that, can't comment on american high schools, but I'm kinda skeptical that they can be as bad as the tv shows would have us believe.

zeratul
2009-10-06, 08:59 PM
You can't fight them to the death, I'M fighting YOU to the death for assuming I didn't want to be in on this fight!


I am going to have to echo Sol here, and paraphrase by saying, "Stay the eff away from teens". They're freaking idiots! No offense guys, but when you're skate boarding in the middle of the road at midnight, don't get pissed when I honk my horn.
American culture changes every week, it won't be hard for you to settle into your area.

There's tons of idiot teens but there's plenty of smart ones too, trust me I am one. And for future reference I can say from experience that generally the people who are stupid as teens are stupid at least into their early/mid twenties. That said this is of course not true in all cases, some teenagers start of not stupid and become stupid when they get to college, some become less stupid when they get to college, some continue stupidity on from their early teens forever, some are never particularly stupid.

One thing may also notice from certain posts maid that American's tend to generlize a lot :smallamused:.

Dracomorph
2009-10-06, 09:30 PM
San Fransisco is nice.

But she said Oregon and well...they dont always get along well with Californians like me. I only ever go their on rare occasion to see my great aunt.

I've heard that in California, people will stand there, coughing obnoxiously at a stranger for smoking across the street from them. Can't say that's a stereotype of person I'd want around, either.

(I am aware it's a stereotype. I even said it. No, I don't think it's true of everyone from California, though I have it on good authority that it's happened.)

Stormthorn
2009-10-06, 11:08 PM
I've heard that in California, people will stand there, coughing obnoxiously at a stranger for smoking across the street from them. Can't say that's a stereotype of person I'd want around, either.

(I am aware it's a stereotype. I even said it. No, I don't think it's true of everyone from California, though I have it on good authority that it's happened.)

Usualy you just glare at them as you walk past.*
At my college tho its pretty safe for smokers. I would prefer it not be, but my high familial risk of cancer coupled with my asthma and allergies means i strongly dislike having to breathe your smoke.

Of course, at my school smokers like to smoke near the chemestry lab, so one day im sure they will cause an explosion. Only once that i can remember was their no one smoking outside the lab. On that day the air smelled like chlorine and after about 20 seconds in the area your nose started to burn.

*This is also a state in which every building has to have elevators in it so handicapped people can get to higher stories. One of the first things i noticed going to oregon was that they didnt do this. Having just spent a few months in a wheelchair, it made me really glad to live in CA.

Dracomorph
2009-10-06, 11:20 PM
Asthma and allergies is a legitimate reason to avoid smokers/ask them to not smoke while you're around. If it's immediately threatening to life and limb to be around smokers, it's even reasonable to be less than polite about it.

If someone has neither asthma nor allergies, they haven't really got the right to be rude to others, smoke or no. It's not that you have to approve of their choices, you just shouldn't be obnoxious about it, same as anything else.

*Do you really mean every building in Cali has an elevator? What about private residences? That would be pretty unreasonable. Most to all public buildings in MO that have multiple stories do have elevators, but the same can't be said for houses/apartment complexes.

Fiendish_Dire_Moose
2009-10-07, 12:39 AM
One thing may also notice from certain posts maid that American's tend to generlize a lot :smallamused:.

If I didn't generalize, the list of names of utterly irredeemably stupid people I have met would probably crash the web site :(.

Quincunx
2009-10-07, 01:36 AM
Most american movies come out of Cali. So my accent is essentialy that of movie stars.

Irish girl, age four or five, to new American neighbor: "You sound like the telly." It was too cute.

Dragonrider
2009-10-07, 09:22 AM
On accents: Cycoris has a very slight one. It's not Chinese and it's not Spanish (which ought to be the two possibilities) but it's just non-standard. If that helps. :smalltongue:


On people to hang out with: I'd recommend joining the choir, because the director is still one of my best friends, but I know you probably wouldn't enjoy that much. How about taking up a musical instrument again and joining the orchestra? I'd recommend waiting until winter quarter for any of that, though, so that you can have a handle on the kind of workload you're dealing with before you make any decisions like that.

Tyrant
2009-10-07, 10:23 AM
If I didn't generalize, the list of names of utterly irredeemably stupid people I have met would probably crash the web site :(.
Seriously? Just let it go, we got it.

That aside, yeah American's do generalize (and I doubt we are alone in that practice, but it is noticeable here). Generally speaking, anyway. Overall though, it's hard to predict what you'll end up with as far as people in this country. They could be stupid (I never said it wasn't possible, just that it's not as all consuming as others make it sound), or not. They could be open to outsiders, or not. And on and on. I agree with the others who are saying the best way to fit in is try to make some friends and figure out what your area considers "normal", then decide if you want to be that or not. Good luck.

Godskook
2009-10-07, 10:39 AM
@OP, I was born and raised in Chicago, and moved out to Vandalia MI when I was almost 18(with my Mom). I feel for you on the culture shock, it isn't easy, no matter how far you go. My time in Michigan was in ways very amusing, and most people assumed I was just another country hick(Ironic, isn't it?), even going so far as 'warning me' about the dangers of 'big towns'*(read: Three Rivers. No, I'm not making this up.). With the lack of connectivity(sidewalks, malls, neighborhoods, those sorts of things), I spent a lot of time on the internet. Now, I'm back in Chi-Town and loving it. Its weird, even the pollution smells like home here.

cycoris
2009-10-07, 10:43 AM
On accents: Cycoris has a very slight one. It's not Chinese and it's not Spanish (which ought to be the two possibilities) but it's just non-standard. If that helps. :smalltongue:


On people to hang out with: I'd recommend joining the choir, because the director is still one of my best friends, but I know you probably wouldn't enjoy that much. How about taking up a musical instrument again and joining the orchestra? I'd recommend waiting until winter quarter for any of that, though, so that you can have a handle on the kind of workload you're dealing with before you make any decisions like that.

...Choir? Not my thing.

And I might join the orchestra next year. My violin is still in China, I'll bring it back with me after Christmas, but at that point I won't have played for...close to a year? I'd want some time to warm up and start playing again before I had to do anything.

*flails*

...I hate not knowing what to expect. :smallsigh:

zeratul
2009-10-07, 01:16 PM
People to hang out with: This may not seem like good advice, but I recommend finding your local pothead, they tend to be pretty cool people. School clubs, and extra curricular things tend to also be a decent way to meet people or so I am told. There is of course also the old fashioned "hey that person looks cool, I'm gonna go say hi to them" route which should work pretty well.

randman22222
2009-10-07, 01:43 PM
Hmm. Culture shock yes. The only time I'd been in the U.S. before now was on vacations, which I spent with family only, though I'd get sneak attacked by little bits of weirdness now and then.

The bits of weirdness would mostly come as inconsideration, but hey, that's not limited to this place. Essentially, they came as questions like, "Wait, you live in South East Asia? But what about the Muslims? Do you have to have bodyguards?" And (from my own family, painfully enough) jokes about terrorists and such when I lived in Abu Dhabi.

Now, the questions, as uninformed as they were, didn't particularly upset me. I dealt with them by making comparisons to the Ku Klux Klan. Simple enough. The jokes, however, especially coming from someone who was at the time a part of my family, whom (objective?) I respected quite a bit as a professional musician and uncle, really got me miffed. They were met with a stony stare. (Oh noes! Don't upset Randy or he'll look at you with a creepy expression! :smalltongue:) Even if he really did believe that Muslim = Terrorist, the difference between a joke and a question was enough to set me off.


Moving to college, I got more of that. My floor thought that I was either going to show up with an inverted swastika on my arm, or in Ledenhosen. Only on telling them that I was half-German, half-American, were they convinced I wasn't genocidal or going to whip out a clarinet and blare Bavarian music at them. :smallsigh:

The first people I met that I got along with I don't get along with much anymore. Essentially, any bits of culture I picked up along the way when I've grown up, they have explicitly tried to erase.

Oh, and just because of how and where I grew up, patriotism astounds me. I just don't get it.

GoC
2009-10-07, 02:20 PM
Oh, and just because of how and where I grew up, patriotism astounds me. I just don't get it.
QFT!!!!!!!
Patriotism and nationalism dumbfound me. I know the theory but I just can't understand the thought processes that could go on behind it...

Pie Guy
2009-10-07, 02:23 PM
Have you looked at TVTropes?

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HomePage

SMEE
2009-10-07, 02:23 PM
The thing that shocked me the most when I was in the US was food and eating habits.

I couldn't find a place that would serve me lunch, only sandwiches and other stuff that couldn't be called lunch.
You know... white rice, cooked beans, salad, fries, beef, chicken, lasagna, pasta. Basic lunch stuff.
And... less than 3 meals a day? o.o

Oh, and let us not get into the coffee. >.>

Other than that, the culture shock wasn't too big. Only the food made me remember how far away from home I was.

Dragonrider
2009-10-07, 02:26 PM
I couldn't find a place that would serve me lunch, only sandwiches and other stuff that couldn't be called lunch.
You know... white rice, cooked beans, salad, fries, beef, chicken, lasagna, pasta. Basic lunch stuff.
And... less than 3 meals a day? o.o

Where did you go? :smallconfused: Sandwiches are a staple American lunch item, but all those other things are usually available for lunch, too. And most people eat three meals a day....

Shraik
2009-10-07, 02:43 PM
Actually I have yet to meet very many smart people out in the real world. So, if I generalise, I'm doing so BECAUSE I LIVE IN AMERICA, and I'm experienced at feeling like I'm drowning in morons.

I've met quite a few smart people. Actually alot, in my life. Maybe because I go to private school, maybe because I myself like to think I'm Smart, or maybe it's cause I live in New Jersey. I don't know. But I find, most people while smart, just have a pompous, outspoken nature. We talk, we like to know what we're talking(even if we don't, we still "know what we're talking about") People just can say anything they want, we have a society very much based off that. The stupid people ratio in america as to other places is the same, just in America, people are more vocal, henceforth noticed more.(at least where I am)

Tyrant
2009-10-07, 02:45 PM
QFT!!!!!!!
Patriotism and nationalism dumbfound me. I know the theory but I just can't understand the thought processes that could go on behind it...
I probably can't explain it to you and anything I say you may already know, but I can try based on my understanding of it. It's like people who are proud to be part of an ethnic group or belieg system, or proud to have a famous ancestor. It's like that, only at the national level. They're proud because those that came before them made great strides towards making the world a better place for them (so the belief goes anyway). I think part of it is the idea that if those that came before could do great things than they too have the capacity for great things (destiny maybe? I don't claim to fully understand it). That's about all I've got.

As was said, patriotism is noticeable in the US. For the most part it's flying a flag. For a few, and these are the ones people will point to when they want to criticise partiotism even though they are a minority, it means believing the US is the best at everything and the absolute greatest place on Earth that can do no wrong. These people take things too far. Part of patriotism is knowing when you're doing something wrong as a country and trying to fix it, not thinking you're infallable.

Having said that, being critical of the US won't get you beat up (in most places anyway) but you should feel out the situation before you get really critical (probably good advice for any place you happen to find yourself, really).

dish
2009-10-07, 02:48 PM
Cycoris: I've been meaning to ask for ages, where did you live in China?

(I'm British. I moved to China as an adult and have been here for mumble mumble mumble years. My husband is Chinese, and we're settled here for the foreseeable future. Currently "here" is Shanghai, but I've also lived in Jiangxi and Zhejiang.)

My thoughts on culture shock:

Most guides to culture shock (http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/cultural-services/articles/cultureshock-stages.html) divide the process of adapting to a new (or returning to an old) culture into three or four stages, namely: excitement or honeymoon period, withdrawal period, adjustment period, and enthusiasm period. I feel that this is true, but possibly a bit simplistic. In my experience, rather than just going through the four stages and then carrying on with life, I suspect that it's more like an ever-decreasing spiral - different stages come back at different points, and even after spending years in the "enthusiasm" period, it's still possible to be hit with bursts of "withdrawal", "adjustment", or even "excitement".

My advice is: this is natural, this is normal, and this is something that you've just got to live through. There will be bad days when you'll feel that you just can't bear getting out of bed to face all those annoying people who won't leave you alone and who expect you to know stuff you have no idea about. But those bad days are the price we just have to pay for feeling at home in two (or more) cultures. There may be a period when it feels like every day is a bad day, but it won't last too long. In the end, you will be able to feel fully (re-)assimilated, except you will always have an extra dimension - and that's something very precious to keep hold of.

If you feel the withdrawal stage coming on, I say, don't fight it. This is an important stage, because adapting to a new culture takes time and energy. There's a big difference between understanding what's happening mentally and actually processing it all: mentally, physically, socially, emotionally and (dare I say it?) spiritually. Give yourself time, give yourself space, and be easy on yourself. If there are days when you need to come home from school and just crawl straight into bed for a long nap, give yourself permission to do it. If you need to escape into fantasy-land through dreams, books, music, movies, webcomics or any other method, again, give yourself permission. If you get an urge to spend hours on the internet communicating with friends and family back in China, please do it.

What the others have said about making new friends is, of course, very important. Friends can help you to adapt, they can explain confusing things to you, and they can explain your differences to others. But even so, it's still going to take time and effort. Probably at least a year. Possibly longer. Don't worry about this - it is normal. My advice about people to look out for and possibly interact with: exchange students, immigrants, and Americans who have experience of living abroad. They'll understand what you're going through much better than people who've lived in one place all their lives.

In summary: it takes time, it takes energy. Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself permission to be tired, depressed and withdrawn a bit, but keep trying to interact. Sometimes it'll feel like the American borg are trying to assimilate you, but don't worry. In the end you'll be able to meet new people and not have to give them your entire life-story. But still preserve your differences from the norm, because that's what makes you "you".

SMEE
2009-10-07, 02:51 PM
Where did you go? :smallconfused: Sandwiches are a staple American lunch item, but all those other things are usually available for lunch, too. And most people eat three meals a day....

I went to Indianapolis. I couldn't find any buffet restaurant anywhere close to the convention center nor the hotel... :smalleek:

And I live on 5 meals a day. Let it just be said that I lost a kilo from staying 5 days in Indy. >.>

WalkingTarget
2009-10-07, 03:11 PM
I went to Indianapolis. I couldn't find any buffet restaurant anywhere close to the convention center nor the hotel... :smalleek:

And I live on 5 meals a day. Let it just be said that I lost a kilo from staying 5 days in Indy. >.>

Buffet-style restaurants exist, they're just not necessarily the norm (especially in a downtown/businessy area where due to the large number of people coming and going they're better off serving fixed portions than allowing an all-you-can-eat arrangement). The nearest one I can find on a quick google maps search is a Chinese restaurant about 2 miles north of the convention center.

cycoris
2009-10-07, 03:26 PM
Cycoris: I've been meaning to ask for ages, where did you live in China?

(I'm British. I moved to China as an adult and have been here for mumble mumble mumble years. My husband is Chinese, and we're settled here for the foreseeable future. Currently "here" is Shanghai, but I've also lived in Jiangxi and Zhejiang.)

My thoughts on culture shock:

Most guides to culture shock (http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/cultural-services/articles/cultureshock-stages.html) divide the process of adapting to a new (or returning to an old) culture into three or four stages, namely: excitement or honeymoon period, withdrawal period, adjustment period, and enthusiasm period. I feel that this is true, but possibly a bit simplistic. In my experience, rather than just going through the four stages and then carrying on with life, I suspect that it's more like an ever-decreasing spiral - different stages come back at different points, and even after spending years in the "enthusiasm" period, it's still possible to be hit with bursts of "withdrawal", "adjustment", or even "excitement".

My advice is: this is natural, this is normal, and this is something that you've just got to live through. There will be bad days when you'll feel that you just can't bear getting out of bed to face all those annoying people who won't leave you alone and who expect you to know stuff you have no idea about. But those bad days are the price we just have to pay for feeling at home in two (or more) cultures. There may be a period when it feels like every day is a bad day, but it won't last too long. In the end, you will be able to feel fully (re-)assimilated, except you will always have an extra dimension - and that's something very precious to keep hold of.

If you feel the withdrawal stage coming on, I say, don't fight it. This is an important stage, because adapting to a new culture takes time and energy. There's a big difference between understanding what's happening mentally and actually processing it all: mentally, physically, socially, emotionally and (dare I say it?) spiritually. Give yourself time, give yourself space, and be easy on yourself. If there are days when you need to come home from school and just crawl straight into bed for a long nap, give yourself permission to do it. If you need to escape into fantasy-land through dreams, books, music, movies, webcomics or any other method, again, give yourself permission. If you get an urge to spend hours on the internet communicating with friends and family back in China, please do it.

What the others have said about making new friends is, of course, very important. Friends can help you to adapt, they can explain confusing things to you, and they can explain your differences to others. But even so, it's still going to take time and effort. Probably at least a year. Possibly longer. Don't worry about this - it is normal. My advice about people to look out for and possibly interact with: exchange students, immigrants, and Americans who have experience of living abroad. They'll understand what you're going through much better than people who've lived in one place all their lives.

In summary: it takes time, it takes energy. Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself permission to be tired, depressed and withdrawn a bit, but keep trying to interact. Sometimes it'll feel like the American borg are trying to assimilate you, but don't worry. In the end you'll be able to meet new people and not have to give them your entire life-story. But still preserve your differences from the norm, because that's what makes you "you".

Thanks, Dish, I was so hoping tha you'd weigh in on this.

To answer your question, I lived in Dalian (Liaoning) for eight years and feel most at home there, and I lived in Ningbo (Zhejiang) for the past two years, but I never really adapted to things there either, mainly because I wasn't going to a Chinese school there, and because I knew that I was probably going to be leaving.

So yeah, I've lived in China for 10 years, out of my almost-sixteen.

The bad days have definitely been getting worse. And yesterday I had a total '**** hit the fan' type day, though that was unrelated. So I'm glad that I have someone to tell me not to stress about wanting to crawl into the closet and hide.

And my sleep schedule has been all whacked up. I usually sleep from 10:30-6:00, but for the past month or so I've been sleeping from 2:00-8:00 or so. :smallsigh:

One of the things that got me today was the fact that my classes actually let out on time. In Chinese school, the teachers won't let class out until they're done with whatever they had planned for that day, or sometimes they'd keep us late as a punishment. (This was in elementary school and middle school. I've got a whole nother set of shock-y type feelings because I've been dropped into community college...)

Anyhow, I think that tonight I'm going to give myself permission to take a nice bath. I haven't had a bath in, oh, 8 years or so, since we never had a bathtub. In fact, we didn't even have a shower stall for a long time. Usually the shower-head would just come out of the wall straight into the bathroom. Yes, more things that I need to get used to. There are public bathrooms here, and compared to the ones in China, they're actually clean!

And I miss North-eastern Chinese food. A lot. Does anyone know how to make MA LA DO FU at home? :smalltongue:

SMEE
2009-10-07, 03:58 PM
Buffet-style restaurants exist, they're just not necessarily the norm (especially in a downtown/businessy area where due to the large number of people coming and going they're better off serving fixed portions than allowing an all-you-can-eat arrangement). The nearest one I can find on a quick google maps search is a Chinese restaurant about 2 miles north of the convention center.

See, around here, buffet-style restaurants are the norm in a downtown/business area. But they usually charge per weight rather than a fixed value and all-you-can-eat arrangement.

And that felt really alien to me. I was there, downtown, close to a convention center... and no buffets around. :smalleek:

dish
2009-10-07, 03:59 PM
My husband's from Liaoning. The other side of Liaoning (right on the border with Inner Mongolia), but still, you can't beat those dong bei ren, can you?

Also, I lived in Ningbo for two years. I must have left for Shanghai just as you were arriving there. I'm very fond of that little city, but the food is terrible - I've never eaten so much salt in my life.

Speaking of food, isn't 'ma po dou fu' a Sichuan dish? Anyway, I'll ask my husband for a recipe when he wakes up (he's asleep, as I should be at this time of day). His favourite dong bei food is 'he zi' - I've seen him eat ten in a row.

Going through the withdrawal/depression stage can suck. I'm sorry. But I really believe that accepting it as a necessary process and being gentle with yourself will help. Fighting or denying it will just make it worse.

Enjoy your bath - I hope it helps you to relax and get some sleep.

WalkingTarget
2009-10-07, 04:22 PM
See, around here, buffet-style restaurants are the norm in a downtown/business area. But they usually charge per weight rather than a fixed value and all-you-can-eat arrangement.

And that felt really alien to me. I was there, downtown, close to a convention center... and no buffets around. :smalleek:

I don't think that I've ever been to a restaurant that charged by weight...

You learn something new every day. :smallsmile:

There are places where there is food set up cafeteria-style and you choose which dishes you want as you walk by, but it's still billed on a per-item basis.

Shapiro's Deli is about half a mile south of the convention center and is set up this way (and, while a bit pricey, is pretty good food - not rice, beans, and similar though).

cycoris
2009-10-07, 04:49 PM
My husband's from Liaoning. The other side of Liaoning (right on the border with Inner Mongolia), but still, you can't beat those dong bei ren, can you?

Also, I lived in Ningbo for two years. I must have left for Shanghai just as you were arriving there. I'm very fond of that little city, but the food is terrible - I've never eaten so much salt in my life.

Speaking of food, isn't 'ma po dou fu' a Sichuan dish? Anyway, I'll ask my husband for a recipe when he wakes up (he's asleep, as I should be at this time of day). His favourite dong bei food is 'he zi' - I've seen him eat ten in a row.

Going through the withdrawal/depression stage can suck. I'm sorry. But I really believe that accepting it as a necessary process and being gentle with yourself will help. Fighting or denying it will just make it worse.

Enjoy your bath - I hope it helps you to relax and get some sleep.

The food in Ningbo was baaaad. :smallyuk:

'Ma po dou fu' is a Sichuan dish, and it's very close to 'ma la dou fu', which is what I was talking about. Except that at least where I ate, the latter was vegetarian, while the former had little bits of ground pork in it. But I would greatly appreciate it if you could tell me how to make either one. It's one of my comfort foods.

And I have the feeling that I'm going to miss the fireworks during Spring Festival. :smallfrown:

I'm going back to China over Christmas, so I'll get to do some of the things that I miss, but I'm a little afraid that by then I'll be at the point where I'll feel lost in both cultures.

Tyrant
2009-10-07, 05:13 PM
I don't think that I've ever been to a restaurant that charged by weight...
There is an Amish buffet near me (I'm 100 some odd miles south of Indy, to be clear) that charges by weight for "to go" orders.

There are places where there is food set up cafeteria-style and you choose which dishes you want as you walk by, but it's still billed on a per-item basis.

Shapiro's Deli is about half a mile south of the convention center and is set up this way (and, while a bit pricey, is pretty good food - not rice, beans, and similar though).
I also don't recall seeing any buffet style restaurants anywhere downtown. The only ones I have seen near there were in Greenwood. I'm sure there must be some closer than that though.

cycoris
2009-10-07, 05:20 PM
No offence, folks, but could we please move the discussions about buffets/patriots &c. somewhere else? Thanks! Let's keep this thread to discussions about dealing with culture. :smallsmile:

Tyrant
2009-10-07, 05:41 PM
No offence, folks, but could we please move the discussions about buffets/patriots &c. somewhere else? Thanks! Let's keep this thread to discussions about dealing with culture. :smallsmile:
I think those two things are quite critical to understanding the present state of American culture, honestly.

Edit to add:
To clarify, buffets can be viewed as an extension of the consumer culture that is seen throughout this country. The idea of being able to choose whatever you want, when you want, and get as much as you want. People here (probably elsewhere too) love that idea and not just with food. And patriotism is something you should read up on if you plan on trying to fit in if for no other reason than to know what to expect.

cycoris
2009-10-07, 05:55 PM
I think those two things are quite critical to understanding the present state of American culture, honestly.

Edit to add:
To clarify, buffets can be viewed as an extension of the consumer culture that is seen throughout this country. The idea of being able to choose whatever you want, when you want, and get as much as you want. People here (probably elsewhere too) love that idea and not just with food. And patriotism is something you should read up on if you plan on trying to fit in if for no other reason than to know what to expect.

Hmm, yes, I do suppose I see your point there. Another things that's been bothering me is all the colours/advertisements bombarding me when I walk into a store. This is actually one of the reasons that I get a lot of my clothes at the Salvation Army--when I walk in, it's just the clothing, with nothing to try to get you to buy one brand versus another. Plus, they have some awesome clothes for really cheap.

Patriotism though... :smallyuk::smallconfused:

Stormthorn
2009-10-07, 06:35 PM
*Do you really mean every building in Cali has an elevator? What about private residences? That would be pretty unreasonable. Most to all public buildings in MO that have multiple stories do have elevators, but the same can't be said for houses/apartment complexes.
Public buildings.

randman22222
2009-10-07, 10:52 PM
Hmm, yes, I do suppose I see your point there. Another things that's been bothering me is all the colours/advertisements bombarding me when I walk into a store. This is actually one of the reasons that I get a lot of my clothes at the Salvation Army--when I walk in, it's just the clothing, with nothing to try to get you to buy one brand versus another. Plus, they have some awesome clothes for really cheap.

Patriotism though... :smallyuk::smallconfused:

The capitalism here! Also astounding. :smalleek:

Tyrant
2009-10-07, 10:58 PM
The capitalism here! Also astounding. :smalleek:
You learn to tune it out eventually. Being born and raised here gives you a headstart in ignoring it (or in some cases, makes you a zombie, and not the flesh eating undead kind), but it's easy to ignore it if you're here long enough. Just remember, if it sounds to good to be true it probably is too good to be true.

Solaris
2009-10-07, 11:23 PM
Patriotism though... :smallyuk::smallconfused:

Relatively recently, after events which I am certain everyone on this board has heard of and therefore we have no need to discuss, "patriotism" became fashionable in America. Hence all the flag-waving and hooplah a few years back. I put it in quotation marks because it was just a fad. I've, ah, been out of the mainstream for some time now, so my last real immersion in American culture was a coupla years ago*. That said, national pride really has been a big point of the American culture pretty much since 1775. We identify ourselves as Americans, and most of us are proud of our country. Maybe not some of the things we've done, but most of 'em. I learned growing up that I should be proud and thankful that I'm an American citizen. *Shrug* It's just a part of our culture, at least where I grew up. Not, y'know, a huge part, but a part nonetheless. That's why it was mentioned - I gather most of us are just doing a brain diarrhea thing trying to come up with anything potentially helpful.

*After spending a year in an isolated Army base and a year Iraq, civilian America just boggles the mind in so many ways. Like people who actually look both ways before crossing the street, or people who'll actually walk in your path instead of getting out of your way. Really strange.

I would advise against hanging out with your local pothead overmuch, by the way. The slacker/hedonist part of our culture is really not something you need to be picking up on. I'm not saying they're bad people, I'm just saying they make some truly stupid decisions with their life.