Sunday, 21 February 2010

Culture Lesson #1

I have noticed that it is really hard to write a blog everyday. I have not been able to keep up with it. Not because I can't, but well because I'm worried about not keeping up with class for the sake of my blog. :P I've decided to start some topic blogs as well so that I can keep writing without feeling like I must recount a WHOLE DAY!

Today's topic is differences. It is a quite odd concept to go to a country where everyone speaks your language but the culture there is different. I think I'm going to do this in list format.

• TRAFFIC: Quite obviously, a big difference between the British and Americans is which side of the road they drive on. But there is much more to it than just the SIDE they drive on…
○ LOOK RIGHT FIRST BEFORE CROSSING!!!: well, it seems self-explanatory, but in America everyone looks left first because that's where the closest cars are coming from. It's a confusing concept too because you're thinking…"oh….they drive on the left…so, left?" but it's really right.
○ WATCH OUT!!! (no J-walking): there seems to be no such thing as "pedestrians have the right away" here. I'm used to that being the #1 rule to driving so it's no wonder that I'm surprised when I run out in the street and cars don't slow down. (DON'T WORRY MOMMY! I made sure they were far enough away first!!!! And I haven't been hit, and I know better now, so PLEASE DON'T WORRY!!!)
○ USE THE CROSS-WALKS!!!: there are two types of cross-walks: ones with traffic lights where you have to push a button for the light to turn red (the light doesn't stay red very long though so if you're not right up on the street when the light turns red, you're probably going to have to wait for it to turn green and then red again) and then there are the cross-walks with big poles beside them that have yellow blinking lights at the top. These are the best because it seems cars have to stop at these whenever a pedestrian is crossing.
○ Round-abouts: these are used at intersections instead of traffic lights. A little more convenient for the drivers (not having to wait for the light) but less convenient for pedestrians (having to go find a cross-walk nearby, that's usually a traffic light one)
• FOOD: oh, the dinning hall…
○ We're all starving: Upon entering the dinning hall for the first time, I was excited to see that it looked somewhat similar to Gee's set-up (kitchen inside, with lots to choose from) as for some reason I was expecting them to give us a general plate of food that everyone got. However, as I went off naming the things I wanted, I was yelled at, "You can only choose ONE entrée!" (I was quite upset…I am used to an all-you-can-eat buffet in Gee dining hall). Another reason why this is upsetting is when there are long lines and I cannot see all there is to offer, I'll often see a more desirable food after I have already settled for something I was unsure of. However, I am not able to get this more desirable food and it really does upset me. Surprisingly enough though, they seem quite generous with breakfast as I can get an entrée, a cereal, a fruit, toast, AND coffee!! During lunch and dinner, however, we can only get an entrée, fruit and a side (either appetizer or desert) so if you're really hungry you're screwed! At least the entrée comes with salad…
○ Shortage of Ketchup: I have also had a hard time with ketchup! Whenever I get "chips" (fries), they only give me two packets of ketchup. However, that is sadly not enough to cover all of my "chips." :'( I tried going back to get just one more and got YELLED at and then they called seconds (yes, they call seconds and you can go get something else if there's anything appetizing left, but I don't know how exactly it works so I haven't done it yet and whenever I want to it seems I come too early and must wait 45minutes before seconds, so I just leave) and I tried to get more ketchup again and got yelled at again. :'( I guess I'm too American.
○ Pitchers: When going out to dinner, everyone will get a glass and a pitcher of water to share. I was worried about my "endless cup" going away, but this works. :)
• Academia: here's what I want you to find….now go off and find it!!!
○ Print your own syllabi!: "Hello class, welcome! I assume all of you have been on Web CT and printed off the syllabus, yes?" (Web CT????!) "It has a list of readings on it. You have to do all of the ones on Section A, but the Section B readings are optional." (Readings??? Wait…what textbook do I need to buy??? I'm confused!!!!) This is how my first lecture began. The lecture's words in quotes and my thoughts in parenthesis. She went on to confuse me more by talking about some other professor coming to talk to us in week 3 and in the tutorials. The only thing I understood correctly is that I was not going to be GIVEN a syllabus, I had to go print it myself. It was the same in my psychology class, but in my other philosophy class, I was lucky to have a professor who handed them out. I did find out what Web CT is (had to do a search) and I logged on and all my syllabi were on there and a few of the readings as well.
○ There's no such thing as a "textbook": Upon reading my syllabi, nothing made since to me. Every reading is a different article…so what textbooks did I need? I didn't find this out until my first Philosophy of Mind course when the professor was talking about 3 different textbooks we could buy. I raised my hand and said, "So…do we have to buy them all or just one of them…?" He responded, "Oh…well, yes…uh…I believe textbooks mean something different in America…textbooks are books to give you just a background information on the topic." I was still a little confused, but basically I only needed one and I really don't need it very often either. :/ There is also a collection I needed as well. So far, it's more of the "textbook" of the course I guess you could say. I'm glad it's useful.

There is, of course, the different things they will say, but I will go into that another day...

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