漫谈“文化差异”/Gossip about “culture difference”

Posted on 2022-10-30  71 Views


NOTE: [See the English version below]

上星期上课主题是Cognitive bias,谈到cultural difference。来浅谈一下自己的感受。


作为一个国际学生,经常会在聊天中被问到“你觉得这里跟你的家乡最大的区别在哪里?”。

其实仅仅从生活的角度来说,我觉得生活在哪里都是相似的。基本的生活无非衣食住行,只要会用无人售货机,会看地图和公交告示牌,我相信即便英文水平很烂,在这边都能活得下去。

我遇到好几次被路人问路,有英文不好的欧洲游客,或者是同样搞不懂伦敦地铁的外国人,以及不会用导航的老爷爷,一样在这边旅游。我用同样蹩脚的英文给他们指路,得到了好客气的“thank you lady”的答复,回头自己在路上乐个半天。

虽然念叨着life is similiar everywhere,但有时候也会在一些细节方面感受到异乡人的存在。

前几天碎碎念写了这么一段:
“大半夜看到肥鱼的ins里写吃到味美多汁的小笼包甚至汤水喷到头发上,肚子开始不争气地叫起来。

到这边说能够无缝衔接肯定是骗老爸老妈的,语言障碍、生活方式的变化、远离家人和朋友,这一切都是那么容易让人脆弱。

之前晚上坐一个多小时公交,去城市北边很远的地方看房子,回程的时候一个人坐在露天地铁站的长椅上,看着长长的铁轨延申到远处看不见的黑幕中,觉得自己真是能干又勇敢。

但是看到之前的照片、听到熟悉的歌,又或者是嘴馋家乡美食的时候,我的眼泪就会出卖我。

我反复提醒自己要区分是因为想要逃避而感到脆弱,还是单纯出于想念,并且极力避免前者。”

对,我觉得障碍不仅仅来源于不同的国家和文化,之前在国内的大学被照顾得太好了,不用自己租房,也没有太大经济压力,现在天天找房子搬家,生活方式的变化也会给人带来shock的感觉。


最近从covent garden搬家到vauxhall,晚上放学走路四十分钟回家(省公交钱!)。在waterloo的桥上吹着晚风,看River Tames两边的风景,一边是狗岛金融城现代化玻璃建筑的华灯初上,另一边是wisminster国会大厦和Big Ben传统建筑的富丽堂皇,觉得好美。

这给了我一种对于这座城市独特而浪漫的印象,它是亲水的。

在我的家乡小城市,也有一条大江穿城而过。江边是市民公园。但伦敦的江边就是普通道路,很漂亮的江边小路,人们日常生活就从江边走过,一天徒步横穿几次桥是小事情。在家乡,人和河流的关系没有这么密切。

另一个印象,来源于我和课堂小组里一位德国同学的共识。我们一致同意这边的人很热情善良,至少表面上是和和气气的。大家会进门的时候帮你顶住门,又或者是在你找不到路时询问一句are you ok?

不过在学校会有些不一样。前几天上课,我和几位同学在教室门口等上一节课的同学出来。闲来无事,于是我开始跟一位搭过话的同学谈起我们的课程论文。论文这个话题自然备受关注,很快旁边另一位外国同学也加入聊了起来。但是,我发现她们之间讲的语速越来越快,用的词语越来越复杂,我听的半懂不懂,就只好保持沉默。这时候我其实是有些难过的。

今天看到一个词,叫“discourse of excellent”,大概意思是说在一些精英化的机构里,大家不会对你的种族/性别等硬性条件有什么歧视,但会有能力上的隐性“鄙视链”。我深以为然。

我无意给我的同学扣上歧视的帽子,因为在国内属于我熟悉的文化环境的时候,我也没有能做得更好。“己所不欲,勿施于人”。但这种身份的转化让我反思,这种以能力为基础的歧视,在多大程度上是合理的?

一方面,能力可以在很大程度上显示你的个人努力,而努力是值得尊敬的。因此我们很容易把两者等同起来,尊重那些能力强的人。但是其实影响能力的因素是很多的,物质条件、运气和天资……这里面有一个机会平等的问题。再者,能力是难以被全面衡量的:你的英语当然好,但是我的中文不赖呀。

所以我决定不要自讨没趣,一下课就开开心心奔回我江边的小窝来,给自己做一顿香喷喷的晚餐,再打开电脑写点碎碎念。我用这些来保持我的一份骄傲。


最后回到文化差异的话题来,我常常在自我介绍的时候说我正在经历某种程度上的cultural shock,但是shock具体在哪里?

我想了半天,觉得在于文化环境的缺乏。

说根本,文化才是归属感的来源。生活不仅仅是能够买东西做饭吃,能够有地方睡觉栖身就可以了的。

去香港玩,我还知道要去给Anita献花,去西安玩,我也知道去找三国古战场遗址。

可是来UK,我一点这种念头都没有。我反而想起这个国家作为殖民帝国时对我的祖国的伤害。

当然这不是鼓吹民族仇恨,一个原因是我的学习历程中,对于祖国的了解更多,所以对那段艰难探索的历程印象深刻;而对于外国优秀文化的介绍,其实是少的,即便有也是冷冰冰的理论介绍,缺乏一种整体文化环境的温度。

昨晚又在熬夜看剧,看《蔡锷与小凤仙》的故事,20集短小精悍,熬个大夜一晚上看完。瑕不掩瑜,整体还是被感动到了的。

是很传统的民族英雄与各种势力周旋,并且掺杂风花雪月儿女情长的俗套故事。但是想到中国近代史多少让我心情激动。

当年我看高中历史书的时候,书上有介绍近代史的一句简单的话,印象十分深刻。我特地找了电子课本,那句话是“在长达一个多世纪的时间里,中国政治跌宕起伏,社会文化剧烈变迁,中华民族历经磨难,进行了艰苦卓绝的探求与抗争,终于使苦难的中国望见曙光”。客观,简练,但仔细想来背后饱含了实在太多的辛酸和哀怮。我可能有点多愁善感了,但是再次读到依旧为之动容。

想起高中的时候历史课,老师在课堂上讲到法国近代的数次革命,评论说,我们看法国革命风云变幻,但看近代中国,我们的探索和苦难一点也不比他们少。全班掌声雷动。如果说我有什么对于社科学术的初心,这就是初心所在。

前几天逛别人的博客看到一篇文章,也是怀念自己的老师,作者在文末说:

“以上是我用尽洪荒之力对二十年前的初中老师和部分同学的回忆。没有什么比时间更能打动人:人的一生有几个三十、四十年?这些老师扎根乡村,一扎就是三四十年。他们才是世间的真英雄,而我们这些所谓的桃李都自愧弗如;我们飞出了乡村,过上了自己安逸的生活,对家乡毫无回馈。每次回国回家来去匆匆,希望下次能有机会去看看当年的恩师们。”

想念我的老师。

又想起中国近代艰难的开放历程,当年第一批留学生出国的时候多么艰苦卓绝,现在我们其实容易多了,海外各地都有一定数量的华人,工作、租房……在这边也容易找到同胞,还有为数众多的中国超市和中餐馆。这个景象也不是一天建成的,背后又有好多的筚路蓝缕吧。

今天在youtube上搜索电视剧相关的历史,看到一个视频评论区有人说:

“蔡锷和黄兴最后都被葬在岳麓山上,小时候爬山的时候会经过他们的墓,但是并不了解他们的故事。现在知道他们是一代伟人之后,家乡已经在万里之外,不知道什么时候能回去一趟了。”

简直说到我的心坎上了。我也曾经两次到访岳麓山,都是匆匆而来匆匆而返,并没有太留心一路上的古迹。现在第一次了解到那些历史和人物细节,心潮澎湃,但也只能仅此而已。

想念我的国家。


但其实关注了一些国内新闻以后又觉得难过。之前读到一首小诗,说“故乡只在梦中真”,现在很认同这句话。

跟大学好朋友大煲电话粥,在视频里看到熟悉的大学校园之前,我完全没想到我会想念它。跟美美两个海外党又哭又笑憋眼泪,也不知道这种奇妙的感觉是哪里冒出来的。

现在越来越觉得人是文化的产物。不知道以后我想起在uk各种奇遇记的时候,会不会也一样的想念它呢?

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The English Version

(Warning: This article refers much more to my personal experience rather than the serious acedemic and conceptual discussion.)

The topic of last week's lecture was Cognitive bias, which also mentioned about the cultural difference. I would like to share some of my thought related to this theme based on my recent experience.

As an international student, I am often asked this question: "What do you think is the biggest difference between here and your homeland?".

In fact, just from the perspective of daily life, I think life is similar everywhere. As long as one can use vending machines and read maps, I believe he can survive here even if his English is poor.

Several times I have been asked for directions by passers-by, including European tourists with poor English, foreigners who is frustrated about the London Underground, and elders who can't use GPS navigation. I gave them directions using my broken English and got a very very polite "thank you lady" in reply. I was proud of myself at that time.

Although I think "life is similiar everywhere", sense of strangers can sometimes arose in some detail cases.

A few days ago, I read one of my friends' instagram post which she said she ate the juicy "small steamed bun"(a kind of Chinese dimsum) and the soup squirted in her hair. At that time I was dealing with my homework and stay up into midnight. My stomach began to scream uncontrolly.

If I say I can fit in here seamlessly, that must be my white lie to my parents. Language barriers, lifestyle changes, and being away from family and friends all make people vulnerable.

Once I had a viewing in far north of the city, and on the return trip I sat alone on a bench at the outdoor subway station, watching the long tracks stretch out into the dark distance. At that time I thought how capable and brave I was.

But my tears give me away when I see old photos, hear a familiar song, or crave the food of my hometown.

I reminded myself repeatedly to distinguish between "feeling vulnerable because I cravenly want to escape" and "simply missing", and tried hard to avoid the former.

Well, I think the obstacles are not only from different countries and cultures. I was taken care of too well in domestic universities before, with the care of which I don't need to rent a house by myself, and I don't have too much financial pressure. Now I am still struggling to look for a accomodation. The change of life style will also bring shock feeling.


**My impression about London**

I had just moved to vauxhall from covent garden, which takes me 40 minutes to walk home. Waliking on the Waterloo bridge, with a relaxing night breeze, and seeing the scenery on both sides of the river tames, which on one side is the modern glass building of the City, and the other side is the Westminster and Big Ben's traditional architecture.

This gives me a unique and romantic impression of the city, which is water-friendly.

In my hometown town, there is also a big river goes through the city, with small parks along the side. But the river of London is the road, the beautiful river road, the daily life of people walking by the river, the day hike cross the bridge is a small thing. In my hometown, the relationship between people and rivers is not that close.

Another impression comes from the consensus between me and a classmate in the classroom group. We agree that people here are warm and kind, at least on the surface they are amiable. Everyone will help you hold the door when you enter, or ask "are you ok" when you can't find your way.

But it's a little different at school. In class a few days ago, a few classmates and I waited at the door of the classroom for the classmates who had a class to come out. Nothing to do, so I began to talk about our course's coming eaasy with a classmate. Naturally, this topic attracted much attention, and soon another local student joined in the conversation. However, I found that speed of speech between them was getting faster and faster, and the words they used were getting more and more complicated. I can not fully understand and had to remain silent. At that time I did feel a little sad.

Today, I saw a word called "discourse of excellent" in an article, which means that in some elitist institutions, people will not discriminate against your race/gender and other hard conditions, but they will have a implicit "chain of contempt" in terms of ability. I was impressed.

I have no intention of labeling my classmates discriminatory, because I couldn't do better when I was in a familiar cultural environment in my homeland. But this transformation of identities made me reflect, to what extent is this ability-based discrimination justified?

On the one hand, competence can be a great indicator of your personal effort, and effort is respectable. So it's easy to equate the two and respect those who are capable. But in fact, there are many factors that affect the ability, material conditions, luck and talent...There is a problem of "equal access to opportunities". Besides, ability is difficult to measure comprehensively. Of course your English is certainly good, but my Chinese is not bad.

So after class, I happily rushed back to my small room by the river, made myself a fragrant dinner, and then turned on the computer to write some thoughts. I use these to keep my pride.


**Some of my emotional thoughts about Culture shock**

Finally, back to the topic of cultural differences, I often introduce myself by saying that I am experiencing cultural shock to some extent, but where exactly is the shock?

I thought about it for a long time and felt that it was due to the lack of cultural environment.

Basically, culture is the source of a sense of belonging. Life is not just about being able to buy things to cook and eat, and have a place to sleep.

When I visited Hong Kong to play, I want to lay flowers for Anita(one of my favourite Cantonese singers), and when I went to Xi'an, I also want to visit the ancient battlefield of the Three Kingdoms.

But when I came to the UK, I had no such thoughts at all. Instead, I am reminded of the damage this country has done to my homeland as a colonial empire.

Of course, this is not advocating ethnic hatred. One reason is that in my experience of education, I have learned more about the motherland, so I am deeply impressed by the difficult exploration process; and the introduction of foreign excellent culture is actually very little, even if there is, the cold theoretical introduction lacks the temperature of an overall cultural environment.

Last night and stay up to watch the drama In The Chamber Of Bliss, which describe the story of Cai E(a modern historical national hero who contributed a lot to the democratization process in China) and Xiao Fengxian(his legendary lover). The 20 episodes is not really long, with the interlocking and attracting narration, I stayed up all night to watch it. I think the flaws do not hide the beauty, and the whole series is still moving.

It's a very traditional story of a national hero dealing with all sorts of powers, mixed with romantic love story line. But thinking of modern Chinese history makes me somewhat emotional.

When I was still in the senior high school, I was impressed by a simple sentence about modern history in my history textbook. I specifically found the e-textbookand the sentence is "During more than a century, China has experienced political ups and downs and social and cultural changes, and the nation has gone through hardships and carried out arduous exploration and struggle, finally bringing light to a suffering China." Objective and concise, but if you think about it carefully, there is too much bitterness and sorrow behind it. I may be a little sentimental, but it's still moving to read it again.

This reminds me of the history class in high school. When my teacher talked about the French Revolution, he commented that we have seen the numerous changes in the French Revolution, but when we looked at modern China, our exploration and suffering were no less than theirs. Hearing this, the class burst into applause. If I have any initial desire for social sciences, this is where my initial desire lies.

I saw an article while visiting other people’s blogs a few days ago, in which the author expressed his thoughts about his former teachers,at the end of the article he said: "The above are my memories of my junior high school teachers and some of my classmates 20 years ago with all my strength to recall. Nothing can move and impress people more than time: how many thirty or forty years are there in a man's life? These teachers have been teaching in those countrysides for 30 or 40 years. They are the real heroes of the world, and we these so-called outstanding students should feel ashamed of ourselves. we flew out of the countryside and lived our own comfortable lives without giving back to our hometown. Every time I'm in a hurry when I return home. I just hope I can have a chance to visit my teachers next time."

I just miss my teachers.

I also think of the difficult opening process of China in modern times. It was very difficult when the first batch of international students went abroad. Now it is actually much easier for us. There are a certain number of Chinese overseas, working and renting houses... It is also easy to find compatriots here, as well as a large number of Chinese supermarkets and restaurants. This scene is not built in a day, and there are a lot of hardships behind it.

Searching for the history of the TV series on youtube today, I found a comment in which someone said: "Cai E and Huang Xing were both buried on Mount Yuelu in the end. When I was young, I would walk past their graves when climbing that mountain, but I don't know their stories. Now that I know they are great men, my hometown is thousands of miles away. I don't know when I can go back."
It goes right to my heart. I have visited Mount Yuelu twice, but I came and went in a hurry and didn't pay much attention to the historic sites along the way. Now that I know the details of those history and characters for the first time, I am so touched, but that's all what I can do.

I miss my country as well.


But in fact, after paying attention to some domestic news, releated to pandemic and politics, I feel really sad. I read a poem before which said, "Hometown is only true in dreams." Now I really understand and agree with this sentence.

Video chatting with my old bachelor friends, I didn't think I would miss it at all until I saw the scene of familiar college campus on the video. May(Meiyi) and I were aborad, we kept crying, laughing and holding back our tears. I can not even clearly figure out what exact thing we miss s much.

I think people are products of culture in some extent. And I just wonder if I will also miss it when I think of various adventures in the UK in the future?