Please do send it on. I wrote this because you got me thinking about it!
I wonder what the order of acceptability for slapping the British royal family would be. My guess would be something like this (from most to least) of the ones I know anything about:
but there are certain English institutions which must never be assaulted, even if you feel yourself justified, if you want to make friends. Tea with milk, for instance.
That's why I had to emigrate. I can't stand the stuff.
I know a few folk who think of it as an abomination, and when I'm at home, I don't drink it the "proper brown" stuff from a tea bag. I make loose-leaf. I get round the tea snobbery by thinking of tea-with-milk as a separate sort of drink.
no one apologizes for anything (in fact, the neighbor's kids started shooting off fireworks at three-thirty in the morning)
Haha, see, the English wouldn't apologize for a caper like that either. But neither would anyone complain about it. They would remain behind closed curtains with a pillow stuffed over their ears. But the seething resentment - oh, that will last for years.
You know... a remarkable number of those things totally apply to Japanese living.
Here, the toilets basically all work PERFECTLY, just... not in the way you think it should work. Actually, that goes for everything from buying a liter of milk at the super-market to riding buses, to figuring out who pays for dinner.
I'm sort of torn on whether or not I should try your advice about inviting people (co-workers) out. I mean, on one hand, it makes it clear that when I said, "Yeah, invite me out any time!" that I meant it (even if I didn't give any actual contact information, I vaguely assume that the communication pipeline is face-to-face). On the other hand, because I'm their JUNIOR (後輩), they would be half-expecting to pick up the tab, which makes it... hard. OTOH, I could be clear from the outset that I'm buying, but... then I'm buying... and I'm getting paid for crap... and going out drinking gets pricey rapidly (generally involves everybody dining as well). Maybe the answer is to eat instant ramen for a month and a half, until I save up the money to afford it... then invite some of them out? But... ugh.
Complaining is pretty much the same. The more immutable the target, the better. The scale runs from "weather" (perfect) to "your hand on my ass" (totally inappropriate to mention). Expressing opinions is pretty much similar... except, hypothetically, you're just supposed to not express opinions. If you HAVE to have an opinion, try to have the same opinion as everybody else. If you must have a DIFFERENT opinion, admit that it's your personal moral failing as a human being that lead you to that state.
Maybe the answer is to eat instant ramen for a month and a half, until I save up the money to afford it... then invite some of them out?
Probably. I have to do the same thing. London is almost as expensive as Tokyo, right? I mean, I don't have to resort to instant ramen, but I do eat at home and very frugally most of the time, and ration my nights out because I don't feel right going out if I can't at least pick up a couple of drinks rounds or my portion of a meal. I definitely don't have as much of a social life as I would like, but on the other hand, choosing very carefully helps me to value the time I do spend going out.
"your hand on my ass" (totally inappropriate to mention)
Yikes. Can you launch any form of protest? Is smacking someone's hand appropriate, or calling them a filth-monster? What I mean to say is, if the objection is non-specific, is that all right?
If you basically eat Japanese food, Tokyo is less expensive than London. If you want to eat like you live in Los Angeles while you live in Tokyo, it's much more expensive than London. (Those underripe mangos you get in LA grocery stores for 99c are about $5 in Tokyo... when they're in season... and don't even get me started on watermelon)
Anyway, the problem with the co-worker-drinking system in Japan is very often (not actually always, but uncomfortably often) somebody will decide that they're picking up the WHOLE tab. If you're not used to it (e.g. me) this makes you uncomfortable. I don't have the slightest idea how to present the idea that we'd each pay for our own food and drink on our own. Unlike, "It's my treat," "we'll pay for ourselves" implies that I expected that they expected to pay for me (or vice versa) which seems a bit brusque.
And the "your hand on my ass" was a mild exaggeration. Though the ability to actually do something about it other than complain is minimal on the insanely packed rush-hour trains. Which is why there are women-only cars on the busiest lines. I don't know how common train gropers really are... but the women-only cars lead me to believe it's not a rarity. As a final note, I'm not actually tuned-in enough to Japanese manners to know how much of a ruckus you can politely make on one of those insane-trains before you're considered to have disturbed more people than the groper has disturbed you (weighted for seriousness of disturbance etc).
Clearly, I still have a lot to learn!
Good list! How can anyone not like tea with milk?
Hm. Perhaps it can be managed by being French? ;-D
a complicated set of social signals that involves both making sure the other person realises they need to apologise, and making it quite clear you're not REALLY mad at them
Yes! That's it exactly. Thank you for clarifying.
Four years? Wow. I still think of you as having just gotten there.
It's bizarre, I've gotten so used to being hyper-aware of my own behaviour all the time that it takes me by surprise when I go home.
People ask a lot about culture shock moving to Hong Kong. But I know me and Justine had a harder time with culture shock moving back to the states. American culture is super aggressive with very little subtlety. Getting used to the aggression in normal daily interactions was very difficult.
Yes, I remember being taken aback by it on my last visit home. People were being friendly, but it was in a manner which I've come to consider pushy and intrusive rather than welcoming. I think it's just as difficult to re-assimilate as it is to adapt away from your native culture, especially if you've been away for years.
perfect (although I also have to adhere to the tone-down section ofpoint 1, and I was born here!).
If you don't mind, I'll link to this on my blog?
You're definitely one of the most outgoing English people I've ever met!
I don't mind, and thank you.
Self-depreciating, apologize for everything. *blinking* I'm so in. \o/
Fabulous list. *uses toned down avatar. It apologizes for being too moody/black/square*
You also have to be quiet. Take the American version of "quiet" and lower it a few notches. Also, decrease the physical expressiveness by quite a bit, particularly in public. You'll just have to trust me when I claim that this is a lot harder than it sounds and it takes practice.
so it's all really true, all those "myths" about life across the pond, huh?
wow. four years.
I didn't know the "myths" before I arrived here, so I can't confirm or deny. What I do know, though, is that #6 contains a whole subset of other lessons that are quite specific and would take me some time to parse. For instance, it is often difficult to tell when you've offended an English person. They will not let you know in an obvious way, verbally or through body language. A slight tightening of the mouth and possibly looking away from you, that's about it.
the loo is the only thing i didn't know about.
(ps - i've had a month of weird illnesses and other things; i still owe you a smattering of "s's" and some snail mail. i owe much to many, it's just going to take a while to catch up. hope all is well - and i love your foray into holga).
Yeah, the rest is probably fairly standard, but I think the thing to remember is that actually practicing them is quite difficult and it takes a long time for them to travel from conscious gesture to subconscious reaction.
But the toilets! Oh good lord the toilets. AAARGH.
I have found this place : http://www.volupte-lounge.com
which sounds beautiful, and I'm dying to try it out. I think you'd be the perfect partner-in-crime for this venture, how does it sound to you ?
Ooh, that looks delicious. Wednesday the 21st? What do you say? Shall I invite others?
The Kitten Club cabaret ? Yes, start asking others, and I'll case out the joint - hopefully going there for there for tea and cake today so I'll let you know. We should probably book soonish ?
There are some aspects of my personality that seem perfectly English (#1 & 2), but yet I've found #5 to have little success, leading to #6. But definitely, the one that I noticed right away were the toilets. The one thing I waxed rhapsodic about initially was Trader Joes, but now all I'd want to import are the toilets that flush with conviction with the light touch of a lever.