My Cultural Retardation

:

My readjustment to Canadian culture is a work in progress. For the most part I’m doing okay:

  • I have not yet left a restaurant without tipping.
  • I haven’t searched in vain for a garbage beside the toilet in which to dispose of my toilet paper.
  • I haven’t elbowed any seniors in a fight to get on any form of public transit (this is probably in part due to the fact that Canadian seniors appear far more feeble than their Korean counterparts, but I’m still counting it as a success).

That said, it hasn’t been perfect. 

Last week I met up with a few friends that I hadn’t hung out with since last time I was in town. We had a few drinks, after which it became extremely clear that I was actually the extra wheel on a double date. That it took me about two hours to notice is not terribly surprising. I’m pretty sure that my friends didn’t really realize it, either; there was much confusion when I opted to depart shortly after midnight. 

My readjustment to Canadian culture is a work in progress. For the most part I’m doing okay:

  • I have not yet left a restaurant without tipping.
  • I haven’t searched in vain for a garbage beside the toilet in which to dispose of my toilet paper.
  • I haven’t elbowed any seniors in a fight to get on any form of public transit (this is probably in part due to the fact that Canadian seniors appear far more feeble than their Korean counterparts, but I’m still counting it as a success).

That said, it hasn’t been perfect. 

Last week I met up with a few friends that I hadn’t hung out with since last time I was in town. We had a few drinks, after which it became extremely clear that I was actually the extra wheel on a double date. That it took me about two hours to notice is not terribly surprising. I’m pretty sure that my friends didn’t really realize it, either; there was much confusion when I opted to depart shortly after midnight. 

Prior to the evening becoming a dry hump fiesta to which I was not invited,  much fun was had. Some at my expense, as is more or less the rule for these things. A few moments of cultural retardation on my part did not go unnoticed:

  • I forgot to tip at the bar. Given that I was actually sitting at the bar and talking to the bartender for most of the drink, this not really excusable. I remembered later, felt shame, and tried to rectify the mistake by tipping double on my next drink.
  • Before slipping out to use the washroom, I asked one of the other women at the table if the washrooms was “okay”. This question did not make sense to them. I realized almost immediately that I didn’t need to ask if the washroom was “okay”; the washroom would not be unisex, nor would there be squatters. I began to explain why I had asked the question in the first place, before remembering that nobody cares. 
  • I said “nice-uh!” in response to learning that there was a candy jar on the bar. I then began explaining why I put an “uh” on the end, before remembering that not only does nobody care, but it’s really not funny enough to warrant explanation anyway.

There were a few more slips, but that was probably the worst of it. In spite of my cultural confusion, it’s awfully nice to be back.



Leave a Comment