Wednesday, October 9, 2013

More differences

And, alas, there are more! In fact, some were brought to mind by my dear friends who commented on facebook.  They too have been in transition and walked between cultures being changed and molded by the languages, the food, the climates, and the people.  It's all for God's glory to see His intricate handiwork in this world.  Never does the amazement wear off.  So, this list will continue, most likely not to it's end, but just as differences percolate through the grey matter.

7. cross the road or not to cross the road?  That is the question.  Actually, it's more a matter of who has the right of way and WHERE to cross the road.  This is a rediculously confusing question.  It became a normal and almost comfortable place to be in the middle of traffic when crossing the road.  And, if all else failed, there was always "the hand" (like a stop actually did stop traffic).  Cross walks, not so much.  Maybe on a main road, but even then, it's just a suggestion.  So here... oh man, I am a confused road crosser!  What in the world to do? I have an inexplicable sudden drop of self confidence when crossing the road while walking.'s feeling a little complicated.

8. Cellophane or celofane.  That is a plastic bag, or a plastic cover, depending on the context.  They are used for everything and readily available (and now, they are also biodegradeable).  Of course, here, each bag costs 5 cents, so it's best to plan wisely and bring your own bag, unless your needing more "grocery bags" for random uses in your home.  

9. Keeping to yourself.  It became quickly apparent that the best thing to do on the occasion that I found myself walking alone was to keep my eyes either on the pavement in front of me or to look like I was texting (maybe I really was, but maybe not!).  This was to differ attracting even more attention and stifled many of the would-be-vocal-attention.  But here, now it's awkward.  When passing someone while walking, if in exercise attire and the passer by is also in exercise attire, clearly a greeting is due.  However, if this is the average Joe, well, it's just awkward.  How far away were they when you noticed them?  Did they see you?  Do you smile at them or give them the cold shoulder? Maybe just sort of go with their lead and follow what they do...  haha!  Oh, it's so funny.  At least looking around at the surrounding area doesn't usually illicit too much attention. 

10. Rice.  While there are definitely families here that do eat rice daily, mine has decreased it's consumption a little.  The selection is substantially less in the typical grocery store and people just aren't as concerned with it.  In fact, if a typical American should miss having a meal with rice they don't usually find themselves on a rice hunt so that they are truly satisfied. :)

11. Only whitening toothpaste?  You know the saying, "They grass is always greener on the other side."?  There couldn't be a truer saying for our unhappy, ever comparing human nature.  Dark skinned people want to have light/white skin and white people want to have tan skin.  How is this problem solved by making soap, powder, lotion, and anything else you might imaging with whitening capabilities.  Of course, we "white" people like to tan (cancer free, naturally).  

12. Dusters.  What do you think of when you hear that term?  Some that is used to dust your house, correct?  Not exactly.  Actually, it's a piece of clothing.  Specifically one worn by a woman and might be better recognized as a summer dress or, occasionally, a house dress.

Maybe more later. :) 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Same Same, but Different

This is a phrase I learned from a friend who had traveled in Thailand.  The word they say for the English equivalent of "different" sounds like "same same".  So, it's now a joke and a common phrase in Thailand.  It is also a good analogy for the bigger picture of cultural differences.

As i've spent time immersed in a different culture these last two years.  The most common reaction is to categorize everything as similar or completely opposite, so that it can be tied to something familiar.  Does that make sense?

There are soooo many things that were different initially in the Philppines that have now become common to me, but are definitely different in this culture.  Here's a little list of them.

1. no bowing!  This is used when moving inbetween people talking.  Ideally the passer by will bow low enough that the people talking will not see them, thus not breaking eye contact with one another.

2. Clean up after yourself! Whether dinning in a fast food restaurant or fine dinning, the waiters will always take away the dirty dishes and trash.  So, if you have been a waiter at a fast food joint and found yourself cleaning up after an unthoughtful customer, just think that they may be from another country and not know of their blunder.

3. Pointing ...  Directional gestures are just not as straight forward as one might think.  You see, in the Philippines the acceptable way to point was by making kissy-lips in the desired direction.  In the States this generally makes people feel a little uncomfortable and possible confused why you won't give a little directional help!

4. Attention!  May I have your attention please?  You might think the most logical way to get a person's attention is to yell their name or a general greeting.  This is not so the world over.  I learned to clap for people very far away (yelling is incredibly rude!) or, if closer, to make a kissing sound or a "shhhhht" or "ssssssst" sort of sound.

5. Spoon and maybe a fork: These are the most common utensils aside from hands.  Hands are always available, but maybe not always proper.  Spoons are especially available for everything from noodles to chicken.  And, the spoon is always used to deliver food to the mouth, never the fork, even when using a fork.

6. Individual vs. Community: It's amazing to look back and see just how much my outlook has changed.  This is a pretty common comparison world wide!  Personally, I went from just wanting to go on an errand by myself (in the Philippines) to always enjoying the company of a friend. So, here I am again in the individualistic culture.  Can't imagine the scandal of me walking down the street by myself!  Yet, it is a wonderful freedom to be able to stand "on my own" as a single woman.  Hear me clearly, because I do say that carefully.

Well, that's all for today.  Hopefully blogging will become a little more regular. :)  Kudos to people who blog regularly!  :)