Dos & Don’ts

From the day when I stepped on the American soil, a series of comparison have been in my head. What do Chinese do, what do Americans do, what Chinese would do is not accepted in America and vice versa. I always hope someday these impressions about America from a Chinese perspective will be published in a palm-size book for leisure readers. Anyway, here a glimpse of part of the comparisons:

Chinese: For women, in particular, they’d carry umbrellas, rain or shine.

Americans: Nah, in rainy days, the hood on our jackets will do. Nobody will walk with an open umbrella under the scorching sun.

My experience: I can’t buy an umbrella in a small supermarket. Or I should say not every supermarket in America sells umbrellas.

***

Chinese: Women don’t leave their handbags on the floor. For safety reason, they put them either on the nearby chair or behind their backs. Plus, the floor is not as clean as it looks!

Americans: As soon as a woman sits down, her handbag, open or closed, will be next to her feet.

My experience: It takes me a while to get used to leaving my bag on the floor. I sometimes wash my bag though. Luckily, there’re more carpeted floors in America than in China, which can blindfold the hygiene freaks like me.

***

Chinese: Don’t let the babies play on the floor in public. The floor is dirty. And the babies are likely to stick their fingers full with germs in their mouth. So unhealthy!

Americans: Let the kids have fun, make a mess!

My experience: I think this is how free American babies can enjoy their childhood. But I can’t help thinking how nervous the Chinese mothers would feel if they see children rolling around on the floor in a restaurant or playing hide-and-seek under the dining tables.

***

Chinese: Parents often warn the kids not to talk to strangers. They’re likely to be crooks!

Americans: “How’re you doing?” is said as frequently as “Thank you” to strangers.

My experience: If a stranger doesn’t judge me as a Chinese who may not speak English, he’ll say to me “Hi” or “How’re you doing today?” I’ll also smile to a passerby.

***

Chinese: Don’t put your legs on the table or step on the chair with your shoes. It’s impolite and it shows one’s lax discipline by her parents.

Americans: Readers can stretch their feet on the coffee table at the Barnes & Noble. Sports fans can dangle their feet over the seats at the front row. If one wants to tie her shoe, she rests her foot on the couch instead of getting down on her knee.

My experience: I can’t follow suit what Americans do.

The list can go on and on but I just want to share this much for this piece. Until then, I’m enjoying what I experience in America. C’est la vie.

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