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Follow the Custom of the Country You live in

已有 2524 次阅读 2021-10-29 22:07 |个人分类:生活点滴|系统分类:海外观察

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The title of this article has an exact counterpart in Chinese idioms which I am sure everyone is aware of. Many customs and normal behaviors in the US and in China are 180 degrees different. Not being aware of the differences, particularly among older immigrants, can result in unnecessary misunderstandings and bad feelings. I list below a few examples that were brought to my attention recently. Please help publicize them among you friends who are recent arrivals to the US.

1.     Unlike in China, fences and walls between neighbors, particularly in suburban area, are rare (in fact erecting a fence/wall on the border with your neighbor can be considered as an unfriendly act except for privacy reasons). Thus, be careful about dumping “yard trash” on what you thought to be public wasteland. It may be your neighbor’ backyard.

2.     In China, you can do pretty much whatever you want with your own land. The concept of “visual pollution” is absent. A couple of decades ago, a Chinese owner in Newton, Mass actually went to jail because he refused to remove some “decoration” on his own property over the objection of his neighbors. Thus, neglect to mow your lawn or upkeep with you garden/landscape visually downgrades the entire neighborhood and are not advised.

3.     In some towns in the US, there are laws that dogs must be kept on a leash and are not allowed to roam free. The owners must pick up dropping of their pet and can be fined for leaving them on the public or private lands. We live in a community. Individual actions in the name of “freedom” have effects on the community. There is no “absolute freedom” in this world. Remember the saying of the Chinese philosopher, Liang Chi-zhao – “You must limit your freedom in order to preserve it”.

4.     In China, it is often considered rude to phone a host that you plan to drop in on him (it is considered to be disturbing the host). But in the US, unannounced visits (with some exceptions) are frowned upon for reasons of privacy. In fact the word “privacy” did not exist in Chinese literature until 1980s after “opening up”.

These are not examples of right or wrong but customs depending on the prevailing environment of the country you live in. Don’t insist on living the old country way in your new surroundings. Chinese culture are particularly resistant to change in this respect which explain why there are many Chinatowns and no French/German towns or India towns. 




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