The Lingering Cultural Shock

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I wouldn’t say it is a cultural shock, although the phrase appears on the title. It is only there to attract attentions, but in reality it is not really about cultural shock but rather cultural titillation to be exact. I am trying to say that there are somethings that one just cannot get completely accustomed to no matter how long one lives in a place. It is lingering forever. You think it would go away after living in a place for more than ten years or more than twenty years, but then it is still there–the astonishing staying power.

It is a long list, but I only list four of them here. I don’t want to include something like “I never use dish washer at home” or “I use stoves as storage places”. That’s just too infantile. I want to write something more mature, but I understand how difficult it is to write about diversity–often we end up with superficial traits like accent, habits etc. Well, that’s the kind of thing I don’t want to end up with. It is a struggle to find something more substantial to talk about.

Numbers And Capital Letter

I can’t do numbers in English. I can’t even recite telephone numbers without turning on the translation machine in my head. Any kind of calculation, no matter how rudimentary, is impossible to be done in English. I guess math is more ingrained in our native language than we would like to admit.

Also capital letters have always been a problem for me. I slow down considerably when staring at capital letters. Sometimes in order to grab attention, people like to write in all capital letters, but for non-native speakers, that will only hinder the cognitive process.

The Food

The recent inflation has made this more conspicuous. The problem is that Asian food is rather a niche product here. And the niche food has suffered a much bigger inflation for some inexplicable reasons. Tofu is the only thing that hasn’t gone through a price hike; many other things have doubled or even tripled the price. The rice is more than $1.5 a pound, which is much higher than those in non-Asian stores. The Asian stores sell a specific variety of rice–a more sticky kind–which the non-Asian stores don’t sell. And you have no choice but to pay for the extra price. Red bean is more than doubled and right now it is like $5 for one pound of red bean,

The Spending Habit

Whenever I see people go to a 7-Eleven or Wawa or Starbucks, I always wonder why they can’t buy things in a grocery store or brew their own coffee. And I have never understood the attraction of these stores, which are popular for some mysterious reasons. Of course most of the Asian immigrants are so burdened by the mortgage payments that they would never go to these kinds of stores. Still, sometimes I can’t help thinking that even if we have no mortgage to pay and we have plenty of disposable income, we still will not go to such stores. We’d rather throw money away at a casino than enjoying a cup of coffee…

Court TV

And this is my biggest cultural shock that will linger forever. Americans really love stories of courtroom trial. The recent Johnny Depp-Amber Heard Trial is one example. There are even people who would follow it on social media platform and watch the court proceedings. And several lawyers who explain the progress of the case daily on YouTube became internet stars with millions of followers. And I can recount popular cases like this at least once each year, from O. J. Simpson, JFK’s nephew’s trial, a couple of cases related with Clinton, Menendez brothers… The list is very long.

For Asians who grew up in Asia, this is quite incredulous since as Asians, we typically avoid police, court, government, politics, politicians etc. Also we avoid arguments until the tension simmers into an outburst which we cannot avoid anymore. With such a philosophy, it is quite incomprehensible that people can feel a sense of entertainment while watching courtroom battles.

For a long time, I couldn’t understand the appeal of such shows. However I have changed. And now I am really caught in this too. I watched Depp-Heard trial and listened to the arguments and experts’ analysis. I feel that I am starting to understand why people are into court cases, because the arguments involved are quite interesting.

I still remember years ago that I was flipping channels, and suddenly Judge Judy came into our view. She was scolding two young women who had been friends before but there’s a fallout and they ended up suing each other for hundreds of dollars. My Bulgarian roommate Rani at the time said, “I can’t believe people enjoy watching this.”

I think I do now. I am wondering what the next court case will be to catch popular attention.

23 thoughts on “The Lingering Cultural Shock

  1. From a UK perspective the obsession with courts and the law does seem very American. I think if I lived in the US I’d be constantly afraid that somebody was going to try to sue me!

    And yes it is difficult to be fluent in numbers in a foreign language. To a native English speaker, foreign numbers always seem to take longer to say than English ones. They have more syllables.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha, “they have more syllables”. You crack me up. That’s really funny. And our mind is so attuned to our own native numbers that other numbers just take a lot longer to get translated. I somehow feel that numbers have a special place in the brain. Really. I feel this way since numbers just don’t flow as easily as other words.
      We have a woman in New Jersey in the immigrant community here who wants to sue everybody…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The biggest culture shock for me when I moved to Canada was the food. I think Asian food might be more expensive since it’s imported from Asian countries and they probably have to pay a higher tax due to that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too. I mean the food since we deal with food every day and we cannot go one day without food. LOL. You are right that Asian food has to pay higher taxes and I guess right now it is just an excuse for those stores to hike up the prices to even higher…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post and I so agree with you in so many points. Numbers? I couldn’t quickly do maths in English either. It definitely is ingrained in our native language. I know the Asian kind of rice is different. But have you tried risotto rice? It has another consistency than the “boring” normal dry long grain rice. Maybe that would be a more affordable option? Besides, Italian cuisine is very delicious and a basic risotto recipe is just using tomato purée, onions, some red wine and parmigiana… but you can add anything you like. Mushrooms, peas, asparagus, …
    I do cook at home most of the time and also prepare my own coffees and teas. But I have to admit, when on vacation I enjoy one of those Starbucks creations very much. A rare treat … I wouldn’t want to spend so much money on a daily basis, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually I’ve never tried risotto rice but now you mentioned it and I will go out there to search for it. It is true that the normal long grain rice is not to my liking, but the Asian stores nowadays are really jack up the price so high that it is almost obscene. I mean how can a pound of rice reach almost $2. And you are right. How come I’ve never tried to make risotto myself? I should try to make vegan risotto… And you are certainly right about Starbucks and you have such a healthy attitude. I really witnessed people who would go to get coffee several times a day and it really astonished me…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, thank you. I am right now a little caught in this legal drama kind of thing and find some interest in follow certain court cases when they become popular. It is really a new interest that I didn’t have before. Yes, so many people run to 7-11 and Wawa so often… I am really astonished…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great idea. I mean coffee in a milkshake. It reminds me of a strong milk tea that can only been made with black tea and it taste wonderful, but I haven’t had it for a long time.


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