Culture Shock – Part 2

Here’s the second part to the Culture Shock post from yesterday!

No #3: Cultural Norms

This one, out of all the entries, is probably the most apparent one. Technically, being on the opposite sides of the globe, Indonesia and America have totally different cultures. The first thing I noticed here is that in college, you can call the professors just by their name. Well, this one is actually subjective. Some instructors at Green River already have PhDs, and they are usually called using the prefix “Professor” or “Mr.” or “Madam” by their students. But some other instructors (who might or might not have a PhD) prefer to be called just by their first name, whether they are 70 years old or 30 years old. At first I thought this was completely rude, because as you all know, if you dare call an elder just by their first names, people will probably disregard you as an impolite person. But here, everybody does that! Then again, please check your instructors first before calling them by their first names ;)

Oh, not just instructors. When you meet new people, you always call them by their first names. Well, probably except if they’re highly regarded or important people, such as maybe the president—Mr. Barack Obama. But for example, you call advisors by their first names. When you meet people who, let’s say, are older than you by 10 years, you still call them by their first names. Might sound weird at first, but it’s true. After a quarter here you’ll get used to calling people by their first names without feeling weird and guilty (like I did).

Besides what I’ve talked about above, there are tons of other cultural differences, but if I were to list them all in this post, it would probably be too long that you would have all stopped reading this post in the first few sentences. But here are a couple of we do in Indonesia that we don’t do here in America.

–         In Indonesia, we find it impolite to give objects to other people using our left hands.

–         After introducing ourselves to other people, we would normally shake their hand and then put our hands on our chest.

–         When meeting older people, we have a special way of shaking hands. The younger person would slightly bow and put the elder’s hand on their forehead. Some of my friends find this interesting, but in my elementary and junior high school, teachers would line up in front of the school, and we students would have to pass them one by one, shaking their hands.

–         Ngaret. If you’re an Indonesian, I’m sure you would understand what I said just now. Indonesians tend to be late.

No #4: Sports

You know how soccer (or should I say football) is really big in Indonesia? Well, it isn’t that much here. Once upon a time I wore a Chelsea FC jersey (yes, I’m a huge fan of Chelsea) to school and some people were like, “What are you wearing?” I replied, “Oh, its Chelsea FC’s jersey.” Then they said, “What’s that?” If this happened in Indonesia I would have been extremely shocked. You don’t know Chelsea? Are you kidding me? Even little kids would know that Chelsea is the name of a British football club. But it’s totally different in America. People are acquainted with football, or what is more commonly known in America by “soccer,” but they don’t know the rules and the major teams. The major sport here is American football, basketball and also baseball. I would say that basketball is pretty popular in Indonesia, but football and baseball? No way.

Because of this huge difference in sports, I suggest that one of the things to do while living in America is to see a football or baseball match live. Football at a glance might seem like a bunch of buffy guys bumping into each other with an egg shaped ball; but once you start learning more about it, I admit that it’s not that bad. I’m still a bigger fan of soccer, but baseball and football aren’t that bad. Also, where else are you going to get the same atmosphere while watching a football match?


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