I have never been to America before. When I was an English major as an undergraduate, I took a course called “Oral Training II – American Culture” (I know oral training sounds weird, but it’s really just a conversation class, not something now you’re picturing in your mind.) But I don’t think culture differences are something I can learn from any class. People always ask me how I think of Americans and if I get used to American culture. It is a good question to think about.
I was that kind of person who had difficulties fitting into new environment (Usually it took me a year), and it gave me a hard time when I went from junior high to high school, and so on, so I was anxious before I came here. (And it got much worse before the semester began because Mike tried to convince me that I shouldn’t be in the production program but writing program.) So, I’m surprised how it turned out. I like the session I’m in and classmates I work with. I think I’m very lucky. For most of the time I don’t even feel that I have to make efforts to get into the environment.
When I was in Taiwan, I think people there are very different, but I was wrong. Compared to Americans, Chinese people are very similar. I thought they’re very different because as a Chinese, it’s just easy for me to sense those subtle differences from the inside out. My cultural background enables me to know another Chinese person very well in a short time –according to the way he dresses, acts, talks, the schools he’s been to, the city he comes from, things he likes to talk about, language he chooses to use, etc. Also it’s easy for me to have a general idea what kind of person he is, and if I would like to know him more. It’s like I have a GPS in my mind so that I can locate another person at my mental maps. And since America is another continent, I don’t have a map for that. Even though I know where one comes from and I can understand what he says literally, I can barely read more than that. Because of that, I realize that people can be this poles apart and I can be less arbitrary and judgmental when I know a new person, giving him a space but a location in my mind.
(photos taken by the author, all rights reserved)