Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cultural Differences

One of the common things that I'm often asked about is the cultural differences that we experience here and several mentioned that on facebook recently when I requested some ideas for blog posts.   So, I thought I'd take a minute to just tell you about one that has struck me recently.  I guess after being here almost 2 years it took me back that I've actually become accustomed to it and look right past it most of the time now  The issue is one of personal space.  The local people here don't have an appreciation for it and I've learned that it is not a mean spirited, ill willed or even intentional act (or lack of ) for them.  It is, rather, a state of being and when you have always lived in a country with this many people it's just the way it is.  

You might think that I would be referring to the common "you're in my space" type of issue that we often use in the US when someone is literally getting too close for comfort to your physical body.  This is not what I'm referring too.  I'm more referring to the fact that the locals don't really have a personal space therefore they aren't concerned or worried about doing things that are normally reserved for your own personal (read private) space.  For example, picking your nose and examining what you find before "flicking" your find while people are exactly 15 inches from you is completely normal.  The same thing can be said for taking a minute to remove anything that might have creeped to where it doesn't normally belong thus causing a bit of discomfort......yep, just take care of that with me right here behind you in the elevator...don't mind me.  Then there is one of my favorites and that is the extremely loud and oh-so-close-to-me hocking of the phlegm that, from the sound of it, has been lodged there for at least 3 days.  I absolutely love to hear, witness and then walk around that large splat you just created. The teeth picking, scratching, phone conversations, and many other actions are just taken care of when and where the need arises--regardless of who might be right next to you.  

 Now, although I am writing with some humor intended I also want to share a little seriousness about the cultural differences.  As I said before, I do not believe that these things are done with any ill intent.  In fact,  there isn't even a hint of embarrassment and they can (and will) make and hold eye contact while performing any and all of these, among other, acts.    I admit that it did bother me much more when we first arrived and I won't say that there are days that it doesn't still cause me to gag just a bit to watch the taxi driver completely clean out his ears with his very long pinky fingernail as we sit at the red light but I can say that I've learned that it's just a difference and even to some extent to be a tad envious of the lack of "you just don't do that" that is accepted here.  So....that for now is my sharing of just one of the cultural differences we enjoy here in China.  

Chat with ya later-


My Southern Delights said...

I think the hocking of the phlegm would give me major problems. I would be gagging everywhere I went.

Anonymous said...

Megan--I have to correct you. They will pick their nose right in front of you, but when it comes to picking their teeth with a toothpick, they hide their mouth behind their other hand. ahhahahahahah! I find myself doing things (like barely scratching my nose or ears) that I would NEVER have done 7 years ago in public. I also sometimes squat down and talk to the kids like I'm in a rice field. Love you and miss you and I know we'll get together soon. I read this stuff and it makes me miss you even more. CRM

we are the spencers said...

Love it. Reminds me of being with my girls. :)