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Culture Shock

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by DrFrylock, May 16, 2011.

  1. DrFrylock

    DrFrylock
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    The White

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    As I mentioned in the WDT, I went to a wedding this weekend. It was a good time overall. I went solo, because I didn't get a +1 invitation. Also, the last time I knew the groom really well was 15 years ago, so I knew nobody there except him and his (now) wife, who I met one time. I settled in for a good day and a half's worth of awkwardness.

    This was a primarily Asian wedding, and I'm not. I'm OK with that and went to school at a place where Honkey McWhitersons like me were well-outnumbered by Asians, so I wasn't totally out of my depth. The pre-wedding dinner was interesting. It was at a restaurant in the city's Chinatown area, a little hole in the wall place you'd drive right by ordinarily. I ask what time dinner is before I get there and the answer is "7:00. Oh, wait, no, for you, 7:30." That's because I operate on Caucasian time, and they are on Chinese time. If you show up for 7:00 dinner at 7:00, you're a half-hour early. So they back-date all the official times for everything by a half-hour to try to get people to show up on time. At 7:25 I was the first to arrive and everybody else got there close to 8.

    Not knowing I am the first to arrive, I go into the restaurant to see if there are others there. The restaurant is empty. There is no host/hostess. There is no "please seat yourself." The entire place is devoid of people except for a glass block aquarium thing holding some very depressed-looking lobsters.

    I wander in a little bit and I see a sign that says "lunch/dinner/dim sum upstairs" which makes me wonder what actually happens downstairs. I go upstairs and it's a huge ballroom. It's basically the meeting scene from Godfather III except with Chinese people instead of Italians. I hear no English being spoken. Everyone is wearing suits and not sitting at tables so much as kind of milling around. One table had a bunch of 2-liters of soda on the Lazy Susan, which I don't understand at all. BYOS?

    A guy that looks like Egg Shen from Big Trouble in Little China asks me what I want. I tell him I'm there with the so-and-so party and since I'm the first one there he thinks I am the party leader. He asks how many people I have coming and where I want all of us to sit. I have no fucking idea and try to convey this as best as possible while he is distracted by barking Chinese orders at three waiters carrying precariously-balanced trays of Supreme Happy Delicious Shark Fin Bamboo Soup. Egg Shen is not happy with me and my unwillingness to go after Lo Pan with him, so he points at a chair, which I take to mean "go sit over there until you get your head out of your ass."

    Around 8 everybody else shows up and after some Chinese is exchanged we are all seated and they start bringing out food, about 1/3 of which I can identify. Some of the food even befuddles the Chinese folks I'm with. "Let's see, that's duck skin, that's jellyfish, that's...probably...beef, and that's barbeque pork." I'll take the BBQ Pork for $200, Alex. "Do you want the lobster head?" The goddamn thing is looking at me. No, thanks. My palate, set to maximally adventurous for the night, is willing to try about 60% of the stuff, and the Chinese folks are additionally impressed that I can use chopsticks skillfully enough to pick up the "good" Tofu (I know from Asian Training that the more mucous-like the Tofu is, the 'better' it is).

    FOCUS: When have you experienced culture shock - with respect to food, traditions, customs, or general zeitgeist? Do you enjoy being far out of your element or are you take-it-or-leave-it?
     
  2. Frank n Beans

    Frank n Beans
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    I went to Zaragoza, Spain a couple years ago and was blown away how dinner was handled there. By the time we landed and got settled into our hotel room, it was about 6-6:30pm. We hadn't ate since breakfast so we were starved and decided to go find a bite to eat. We literally could not find a restaurant serving food at that time so we had to settle for McDonald's. I couldn't believe I was in a foreign country and had to eat that crap. The next night we went out around 8:30pm and finished around 10. As we were walking out, families with kids like 4 years old were just coming in for dinner. I was warned of this ahead of time, but it still was pretty crazy to see. Christ my bed time was 8 when I was that little.
     
  3. audreymonroe

    audreymonroe
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    The most powerful cervix... in the world...

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    I enjoy experiencing other cultures, so I tend not to feel too much culture shock, but the one thing that did take some getting used to and made me feel out of my element was when I was in Israel and there were just so many guns everywhere. Armed soldiers that were often younger than I was were everywhere you turned, especially in Jerusalem. There were even some guys who decided to take their guns out for a stroll. I could almost always hear gun shots in the near distance, thankfully from training camps, and there were always F16s flying overhead. I'm pretty sure that before that the only guns I ever saw were concealed in policemen's belts. It was definitely unnerving and made it very obvious that I was hanging out in a war zone.

    It did get kind of funny when I'd see signs like this, though:
    [​IMG]
     
  4. Croftie

    Croftie
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    I lived in China for 6 months in 2009, and consequently, I could go on and on and on about culture shock. Things are done so completely differently in Asia that there is really no way to prepare for it. You'd just better hope you have good coping skills.

    The habit that most blew me away was the way some Chinese parents allowed and encouraged their children to pee and shit in the streets. So many (I don't wanna say the majority, but it was close) parents dressed their young children in pants that had a slit from the butt all the way to the crotch. Whenever the child had to pee or poop, they would hold it over a grassy area or shrub and let it do its business. I could never ever ever get over that practice no matter how hard I tried.