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Since America and Asia are far apart, there are a lot of differences between American and Asian culture. Everybody knows it, but it brings to mind a question, “Why are they different even though we are human-beings who are all same?” I found out why there is a difference when I read the Joy Luck Club. Although I am from South Korea, I did not realize the differences between them before I read Joy Luck Club. I for the most part agreed with what I read. Asians and Americans usually have conflicts with each other because they misunderstand what is being said or done, because the culture is different and they think differently. Therefore I think that some of the problems were cause by the dissimilarities of the two cultures, especially the contrasting dinner etiquette’s to explain these differences.
The cultural difference that is the easiest to see is dinner etiquette. I was upset when I first came to Canada about how the people kept taking my food because they were too lazy to go and get some more. After three years, I am taking food from the people in the dining hall, which means I have changed my way of thinking in this respect. The reason that I was upset is that Asian people have a stereotype about food. It is just like this. If I have taken this, this is mine, and nobody can touch this. This may sound barbaric or like animals fighting for their food. This kind of thought was probably brought about because through out history we had war many times this means that only the strong people who have lots of food survived. American people all want to share everything that they have. They think that if I give something this time, I can receive something next time. I think type of thinking should be learned in Asia to promote peace. The other problem that I had during my first year at Ridley is that people joked about my family such as mom and dad. It was the hardest thing to endure. If someone joke about my family in Asia, he or she may be killed. This is a bit exaggerated, but it is just like swearing, and it really hurts the people.
We can find some of the examples about the differences in etiquette in “Four Direction” that Waverly Jong wrote. When Rich, who is Waverly’s fianc e, was invited by her family for dinner, and made many mistakes which started by bringing a bottle of French wine. If I think about it in American way, it is a polite manner to bring something to eat or drink for the people who invited me, and it is the etiquette. But it is not in Asian way. I really don’t know why it is rude if we bring something for the people who invited me. Although I guess it is because the people might not like what I bought for them, or I could give them the message that I don’t like the dinner that they have prepared for me. In the book, Waverly said that her parents did not even own wineglasses. This means that Waverly’s parents most likely do not like to drink wine very much. They probably prefer to drink Chinese tea and wanted to recommend it to Rich, but Rich disturbed their plan, and he also lost the chance to drink Chinese tea by bringing the bottle of French wine which he prefers. The other mistake that Rich made is that he criticized her mother’s cooking, and he proceeded to pour a lot of soy sauce on the platter. It is just very rude. Waverly’s mother prepared the food with her whole heart, and it probably took a lot of time to prepare. Most cooks always want to hear how fantastic the food from the people who taste it. Think about her feelings. She cooked her special food for her important visitor. Also, Rich may have ruined it by putting on a lot of soy sauce on the platter, and that was food that everybody was going to eat. The others could think that the food was fine how it was. In America, people taste the food and give the cook some advice to help make the food better next time, and it is normal, but you at least try to be seen enjoying the food in front of the cook in Asia.
There are some more things that we are not supposed to go against when we have dinner. We Asians actually can’t make any noise when we are having dinner. If we do make noise, the elders tell us to be quiet and they may even they smack us, but I have seen a lot of people in Canada who eat food while making a lot of noise. Americans usually enjoy the food so that they talk about their life and they joke on the table, but we should not because it is impolite. On the dining table, there should be only one thing, which is being eaten. It was the dinner etiquette, but we are changing a lot like Americans these days. We can’t also put our elbows on the table when we are having dinner. It is just not polite because it makes the other people keep looking at it and bothers them. The other very important etiquette that we really have to do is that we cannot start eating until the elders have begun to eat. We are also not able to leave the table before the elders finish to eating. It is a type of respect for your elders. There is a great deal of dinner etiquette like these and they are so simple that Americans do not even think about it, and they would not understand why these are rude and doing something else is polite. Also there might be lots of things that I don’t know about in American culture, and I don’t understand them.
The environment and the many other factors we have are all different from each other, the culture is therefore different. The factors can be religion, landscape, weather, and the other many types of conditions. Mostly religion affective’s the different forms the culture. There is a religion called, “Yu-Gyo” and it is based on respecting your elders. That is why we cannot eat first and leave before the elders eat and leave. Even though there are many differences between the cultures, stop saying that I don’t understand the culture, and I don’t care about it because this is not my culture. If we take the advantage of the situation we can incorporate the advantages of each into our cultures and make them better. This will make understanding and people easier and would help to stop racism because we would be of kin.
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