19 Jul Oh the Metro
While working in Shanghai, I have encountered many experiences that have been different than the culture I am used to in the United States. Some of these experiences are acts that reflect the Chinese culture and others are simply a reflection of another’s personality. After reflecting and organizing which experiences fell into either pile, I developed an opinion on the matter.
First, starting with basic observations of what I believe to be Chinese culture, I have to address the Metro. The Metro has for sure been my most significant aspect of culture shock while in China. I remember the very first time I went on it; I probably won’t ever forget. All Butler students, along with the Absolute Internship staff were headed to Pudong for the photo scavenger hunt contest. We walk through basic security, when I realize that I had forgotten my travel card. This was my first time on the metro, and I had forgotten the one thing I needed! Luckily, Dr. Wang, our school supervisor, helped me out, and he and my sweaty and frantic self, raced down the escalator to make the train. I cautiously and politely attempted to board the train, when I nearly got trampled by a sea of people who apparently were later than I was. It’s 85 degrees Fahrenheit with 95% humidity, and I am now jam-packed into the Metro, sweating through my shirt, and everyone around me is acting completely normal. That was the worst 15 minutes of my life.
The other aspect of Chinese culture that I have had to adjust to, is the staring. It happens at least once every day, usually on the metro. I will just be minding my own business, when I can feel a pair of eyes on me, and boy are they powerful. I turn and look, and there is usually an elder Chinese man sizing me up, looking me up and down repeatedly. I’m not sure if he is just fascinated with me, or if he is passing judgement, but I have learned to retaliate just by staring back at him, until he looks away. Again, I’m not quite sure if that experience is a reflection of the entire Chinese culture, but it happens to me every day, so my observations must have some truth.
After experiencing the ups and downs of Chinese culture, my opinion is a simple one. It is just different. I have no judgement on the subject if American culture is better than Chinese. I believe there is no hierarchy when it comes to culture. Both cultures are different, and that’s it. I’m just glad I get to be here and learn more about it every day. Who knows? When I’m home, I might miss the attention.