Recently, I have been taking a rather creepy notice of the ‘culture’ of international students- wouldn’t name the nationalities for the sake of confidentiality, privacy, security even- but they do seem to show rather interesting differences compared to the mainstream New Zealand population. I mean come on, you come to a country speaking a different language with rote-learnt phrases of how to deal with situations, there is about a 95% chance that you will be a source or victim of trouble as far as culture is concerned.
Today, an international student in my class was walking out of the workshop when the lecturer asked her where she was going. She said, “I’m going to the bathroom to wash my face”– as though walking out of class for a face-wash was as common as going to the loo, even acceptable. Anyway, the lecturer was like “Oh, okay… you can go.”
But once she left, the lecturer laughed (in a rather sarcastic fashion)- “Why did she have to go wash her face?” Her friends explained that she was apparently feeling very sleepy so she wanted to wash her face to freshen up.
This a funny example (well, I find it anyway) of a situation where something that might be perfectly normal in one culture, may seem odd in another’s. And I know that you’re sitting there staring at your computer/ laptop screen wondering why I make such an immediately obvious point. After all, there are plentiful examples as such that we encounter in our everyday lives.
But having said that, I also realise that while we generally understand and acknowledge culture in principle, we don’t often, well we do rarely, give enough attention to it in practice.
I wash my face at school too. It freshens me up 🙂