Today I was talking to two very good friends, one’s from Japan, and the other is from China. We were talking about culture-shock, and the one from China said, “when I first came here, I was so surprised, Americans always say ‘have fun!’ when someone is going somewhere, we never say that in China, it was weird for me,” and my Japanese friend agreed with this statement. I thought it was interesting how these little common sayings in a country can be so surprising for someone who is foreign.
My friend from Japan then added, “they always say ‘have fun’ when I say I’m going to class, how can I have fun in class?” I explained to her that it is said more in satire since you don’t usually have fun in a class. She looked like a light bulb came on in her head, and she said “oh! really?” and she laughed. Again it is so fascinating to me that little things like that can completely confuse someone who is from a different country and is living in a new culture.
The two of them then went on to talk about American parties, which is another thing that confuses them. They both spoke about how weird it is when Americans go to a party where most of the people don’t know one another , but they just drink and start speaking to each other. I said to them both “I thought drinking parties are very common in your countries,” they both said, that they are, but the people who attend the party mostly know each other, it is not as random as the American ones, and that, that would never happen in China or Japan.
I do feel sympathy for people who experience culture-shock, much like I did when I first came to this country. At the same time, I find it a little funny when I listen to the anecdotes, and I share my own from 3 years ago. It’s also very interesting, and I learn more about people in the process. If you want to learn about the differences between your culture and other cultures, just ask someone who is a foreigner in your town about their experience with culture-shock, it is a good learning and teaching experience, it also makes for good conversation. Now, go ahead, shock someone with your culture!