A couple of other interesting cultural differences between the CR and
-- In the CR, we Americans saw happy kids and sad kids, but we never
saw the extremes of emotion we are used to in the US.
-- Most Czech dogs walk down the street and completely ignore
strangers, even if they're not on a leash. American dogs are curious
about everyone and won't miss an opportunity to walk up and smell you.
-- This one sounds crazy, but Czech dogs bark in a different
"language" from American dogs. If I hear dogs barking in my
neighborhood in the US, I can tell from the barking pattern if they
want to lick me, bite me, or just inform each other of my presence.
The dogs in the CR bark according to different patterns that I never
learned to interpret.
-- When encountered by an obnoxious drunk with romantic intentions,
young American women will show immediate disapproval and either walk
away or get rid of the guy. Young Czech women are liable to stay
where they are, giggling at the man's remarks and making goo-goo eyes
until he thinks he's making progress and gets way out of control. At
this point, the Czech woman will expect the nearest man to step in
with a roar and threaten the drunk until he stays away.
On Jan 1, 2009, at 1:08 AM, libore@... wrote:
> Hi all,
> Regarding the interpretation of ages, I really got confused in Poland,
> where, especially speaking on the phone, I kept gauging the (woman´s)
> age wrong, approx. mistake + 10 years. I must say Poles have better
> telephone manner than we (me), which doesn´t help a common Czech like
> me in telling the ages. They are polite and speak accustically higher,
> so I was surprised meeting a serious woman (45 years old I supposed),
> who turned out to be a hippie girl in her late 20-ies.
> Also children are very serious there, and if you are just hearing
> you can think it´s their mother or a teacher.
> ----- PŮVODNÍ ZPRÁVA -----
> Od: "James Kirchner" <jpklists@...>
> Komu: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com
> Předmět: Re: [Czechlist] Re: S kazdym novym jazykem ...
> Datum: 27.12.2008 - 17:45:38
>> "Culture shock" is actually a clinical diagnosis of
>> a mental state
>> people have when moving to another, very different
>> place. Wikipedia
>> does a relatively good job of explaining it:
>> A lot of culture shock is caused when someone goes
>> to a new place and
>> finds his ordinary habits of behavior -- and even of
>> seeing -- are
>> dysfunctional there. Reverse culture shock is even
>> worse, because the
>> person develops new habits in order to function in
>> the new culture but
>> doesn't realize he's changed. He goes back home expecting
>> to fit
>> right in, but he doesn't.
>> I had a lot of confusion when I returned to the States.
>> problems included things like this:
>> -- I could no longer gauge Americans' ages. At home,
>> I often thought
>> American 23- to 25-year-olds were 18, much as when
>> I first moved to
>> the Czech Republic I thought many 35-year-olds were
>> 50, or that some
>> 15-year-olds were 23.
>> -- I was driven crazy by the way waitresses and store
>> clerks were
>> "singing" to me. This tone of voice is considered
>> good customer
>> service in the US, but in the CR I had learned to value
>> competence over cheerful mediocrity.
>> -- I thought the American ladies pushing babies around
>> in strollers
>> were grandmothers, but they were the babies' mothers.
>> This is the
>> mirror image my assuming at first in the Czech Republic
>> that the young
>> ladies pushing the prams were helping their mothers,
>> when they
>> actually WERE the mothers.
>> -- I was paranoid whenever anybody made a business
>> promise. In the
>> Czech Republic the probability that a merchant or other
>> contact will back out on his promise or cheat you is
>> so much higher
>> that I came back to the US with an inappropriate level
>> of business
>> -- I had forgotten that innocent flirting between
>> men and women isn't
>> very common in the US, and I realized I would get into
>> trouble if I
>> talked to women in English the way people did in Czech.
>> don't usually flirt unless it's a sign of real romantic
>> Czechs just flirt for the sake of it.
>> -- I got into people's space too much and touched
>> them too often.
>> -- I had forgotten how to show strangers on the street
>> that I was not
>> a threat. If I needed directions, I would park the
>> car, get out and
>> approach people on the street. This is inappropriate
>> in a large US
>> urban area, where you're supposed to open the window
>> and speak to the
>> person from inside the car, or else go to a gas station
>> and talk to
>> the guy behind the bulletproof glass. (This varies
>> in the US. In low-
>> crime small towns, you can generally approach people
>> on the sidewalk,
>> and people in the high-crime ghetto aren't bothered
>> by it, but in the
>> low-crime suburbs it freaks some people out. Don't
>> ask me why.)
>> -- For about my first three months working in the
>> US again, I carried
>> my business stuff around in a plastic shopping bag,
>> before I realized
>> that Americans never use shopping bags for that and
>> that I looked kind
>> of weird.
>> -- I had a lot of trouble shopping in American supermarkets,
>> there were too many brands of too many products, and
>> the light was
>> really bright. I would experience a sort of sensory
>> overload and had
>> trouble making choices. If it got too confusing, I
>> sometimes didn't
>> buy things I needed.
>> -- I would fret over a $1.00 purchase, even if I needed
>> the item and
>> it was a good deal. My sense of proportion between
>> price versus
>> income was distorted by the lower prices and salaries
>> in the CR, so I
>> thought of all the things I could buy (but in reality
>> couldn't) with
>> the dollar I was spending on a package of pens. I
>> thought in terms of
>> a dollar (35 crowns at the time) buying me a haircut
>> and a few
>> groceries, when all I was getting in the US was a few
>> Bic pens. When
>> I paid $3.50 for a burger and fries at a fast food
>> chain, I felt like
>> I should be getting an elegant meal for the price.
>> It was a gut
>> feeling that didn't take into account the difference
>> between my $2,000
>> Czech salary and my $40,000 American one.
>> -- I had forgotten that in America I couldn't chide
>> a stranger's
>> child on the street when he was doing something wrong.
>> In the Czech
>> Republic, a parent who sees you do this will probably
>> thank you and
>> assure you that he or she hadn't seen what the child
>> was doing. In
>> the US, they'll tell you you have no right to tell
>> their child what to
>> do -- even if the child is doing something really bad
>> or endangering
>> his own or other people's safety.
>> -- I would get mad cravings for a piece of grilled
>> kielbasa with hot
>> mustard on a piece of grey cardboard, but I couldn't
>> get it anywhere.
>> There are a whole lot of habits of behavior and perception
>> that I had
>> to change when I came back home.
>> If you want to hear a story of culture shock, ask a
>> Czech who
>> emigrated from the CSSR to the US about the first time
>> he tried to buy
>> a pizza here.
>> One of my friends pointed out an interesting bit of
>> miscomprehension that he experienced after moving to
>> Chicago as a
>> young man, and I realized I had had the same problem
>> in the Czech
>> Republic but had been unaware of it. We grew up in
>> a rather
>> conservative suburb where most of the people are professionals
>> of some
>> kind. The girls we grew up with dressed very modestly
>> -- typical
>> social attire for young women would be a blouse underneath
>> a pullover,
>> and a pair of Levis or a skirt or kilt down to the
>> knees. This is
>> what desirable girls dressed like, in our minds. Where
>> we grew up,
>> wearing really short or tight skirts, or showing cleavage,
>> considered a sign of stupidity, low education or promiscuity,
>> so we
>> assumed that girls who dressed that way were not a
>> good choice. When
>> he got to Chicago as a young man, and I got to the
>> Czech Republic, we
>> encountered cultures where many young women were dressing
>> sexy at the
>> age where they were looking for a husband, and they
>> conservatively after they had found one. The style
>> of dress had
>> little relation to their intelligence or virtue. So
>> he in Chicago,
>> and I in Marianske Lazne, ran around thinking that
>> many young women
>> were stupid, promiscuous or otherwise iffy, when in
>> fact they were
>> intelligent and perfectly okay.
>> On Dec 27, 2008, at 6:55 AM, Romana wrote:
>>> Jamie, I'm not completely sure that I understand
>>> what you mean by your
>>>> 'culture shock'.
>>> I experienced a real 'culture shock' when I returned
>>> to Germany and
>>>> to the
>>> Czech Republic for a holiday two years ago, after
>>> having lived in
>>> for only 7 years. I had got used to the Australian
>>> friendliness and
>>>> politeness and helpfulness so fast that my first
>>> impression of
>>>> Germans and
>>> Czechs when I came back was, "Gosh, are they rude!
>>> They sound like
>>>> they are
>>> terribly frustrated on an everyday basis!" I heard
>>>> complaining about
>>> basically everything and everybody, whereas Australians
>>>> rather think
>>> twice before saying a negative word. I have never
>>> lived in the US, but
>>>> honestly - can there be a more devastating approach
>>> to life in general
>>>> anywhere else in the world than in Central Europe?
>>> (I am really happy that I can finally share my everyday
>>> life with
>>> Best regards,
>>> From: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Czechlist@yahoogroups.com]
>>>> On Behalf
>>> Of James Kirchner
>>> Sent: Saturday, 27 December 2008 9:32 PM
>>> To: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com
>>> Subject: Re: [Czechlist] Re: S kazdym novym jazykem
>>> Narodil jsem se ve Spojenych statech, stejne jako
>>> mi rodice a rodice
>>>> meho otce.
>>> Rodice umeli jenom anglicky, i cizi babicka mluvila
>>> pouze anglicky a
>>>> ucil jsem se cesky sam, nedriv zaklady doma v Detroitu
>>> a potom v
>>>> Marianskych Laznich do urovne vseobecne statnice.
>>> Takze "going home" pro me znamena navrat do Ameriky
>>> po nekolika letech
>>>> tzv. "going native" v Cechach. Sok byl horsi nez
>>> v prvnich mesicich v
>>> Anglicky se to nazyva "reverse culture shock" a jedna
>>> ma zakyne to
>>>> take prozila, kdyz se vratila do Cech po delsim pracovnim
>>> pobyte v
>>>> Dubaji. Delala vpodstate stejne veci, ktere jsem
>>> udelal ja hned po
>>>> navrate do Ameriky. Napadlo me, ze jsou urcite priznaky
>>>> psychicke "nemoci" a dokazal jsem ji najit vybornou
>>> knihu specificky o
>>>> kulturnim soku po navrate domu: "The Art of Coming
>>> Home" od Craiga
>>> On Dec 27, 2008, at 5:08 AM, spektrum2002 wrote:
>>>> Ona je otazka, co je to "going home", presneji
>>>> kolik Vam bylo, kdyz
>>>>>> jste z Ceskoslovenska odesel (ja jsem dokonce myslel,
>>>> ze jste se
>>>>>> narodil ve Statech a ze cesky umite od rodicu resp.
>>>> babicky), a
>>>>>> nakolik jste predtim absorboval ceske prostredi
>>>> a jeho kulturu,
>>>> to mohl povazovat za svuj domov.
>>>> Petr A.
>>>> --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com <mailto:Czechlist
>>>>> %40yahoogroups.com> ,
>>> James Kirchner <jpklists@...> wrote:
>>>>> Yes, but it's not your home. People expect going
>>>>> home to be a
>>>>>>>> wonderful experience, but when you've absorbed
>>>>> another culture,
>>>>> then you go home, it's pretty shocking. It's
>>>>> got nothing to do
>>>>> the US itself.
>>> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
>>> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
>> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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