Cultural Differences
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                                      by Senior 2 Class 6 Lu Jiayuheng

To learn a language well, we should also know the country, culture and the way of life of the people. Learning a language well means being able to use it properly.

For example: Chinese eat pork, but muslims don't. Chinese often ask, "Did you eat?" as a way of greeting, which in the West is an invitation to lunch or dinner. From this, we can draw a conclusion that learning a language well isn’t enough, we must also understand the country and its culture and the way of life.

On a bus in Finland: when you get on a bus and notice that all the seats are occupied and you don’t have a seat, you have enough space to stand. You respect that space. In China, when you squeeze into a bus, you will have a feeling of winning the whole world, then laugh at the people outside the window. I also noticed a funny thing - some people on the bus or subway will choose to watch videos, then everyone around will watch it as well, glaring at the screen and laughing every now and then.

If you watched the film called “Scrapping”, you can recall there were many misunderstandings caused by cultural differences. The male protagonist takes his family to live in America. The most impressive scene on the trip was when he took his kids to dinner and met his boss. The boss' kid got into an argument with his kid. The main character immediately spanked his kid and demanded an apology from him. He thought doing so was showing his boss respectbut it didn't make the boss feel good about the whole incident. Another time, the child caught a cold, but the grandpa did not know English, so he could not give him medicine, so the traditional Chinese scrapping was used. Kids got hit on the back and it got reported as a case of a child abuse. It took a long time for litigation to prove that the grandpa did not abuse his children. When I saw the film, I felt deeply helpless. So when we go to another country, we have to understand what customs there are and what are do’s and don’t’s.

Take my own experience. Once I ate hotpot with my classmates. One of them was from Indonesia. When we were thrilled to eat all kinds of meat, we found that her face expression was a bit sour. After we persuaded her, she tried Mao Du, but spitted all out quickly. This scene reminds me of another similar thing - we eat fish entirely - from head to tail, but for most foreigners this is unacceptable. Therefore, one can find it difficult to live in a new country without knowledge of its culture or even travelling somewhere abroad. The ultimate goal of learning a language is to communicate with people who speak it. We also need to know the lifestyle of the people in the countries we are traveling to. When we face culture shock, we should treat it with an open heart. 

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