I couldn’t not do this challenge – though one thing which interests me is that when we picture culture it is usually one which is obviously different from our own, as if it is not possible to see the one we happen to be in. I left Northern Ireland aged about 21 for Leeds, Birmingham and then London where I stayed 20 plus years before moving to Scotland, where I have now had a home longer than anywhere else. From my point of view, these big/not-so-big life moves all involved different cultures to get used to. The last 20 years have also frequently found me in USA. Again this in an english-speaking pretty-much-white part – but the culture took a lot of getting used to. EVERYWHERE is different from everywhere else, even family to family.
However, the different culture most friends ask me about is CHINA as they know I have spent time there also, first visit in 2004, and every year since (see the most recent visit to Shanghai posts on this blog).
I have been in several different cities, and some parts of the country, guess what, the culture varies from place to place. Long ago, while in London, I often read the story of Ping the duck who got lost on the Yangtze river.
In Yangshuo, 2004, I was thrilled to see the fisher-birds.
A week earlier, I had been treated to my first Chinese New Year meal, at the home of my daughter-in-law’s grandmother. To my shame, I do not remember her name – women keep their own names in China – so I can’t call her Mrs. Something. She was then 80 years old, and died the following year. Chinese New Year family meals are a really important part of chinese culture. They all watched to see how I would manage the chopsticks – watching other people is not rude, as it might be where I grew up. I did not yet know about the “lift the bowl up to your mouth” way of eating – see grandmother’s bowl. And keeping the TV on? Seems that is OK in China too, where it would not be in my house!!
Culture, acceptance of difference, enjoyment of new things, so much part of life.
(Especially the hospitality – food and friendship!)