These cartoons were made by my students. Earlier this year they had an assignment. Write a letter as if your friend was coming to Shanghai from a western country, how would they experience culture shock? They had good answers so when it came to write the exams the other teacher and I decided to add a little twist and put ourselves in the picture. I especially liked these. One I like because my facial hair is out of control. Another I like because of the last frame with people walking around someone that is hurt (that happens). One I like other because of the phrase, “what in the name of Chiang Kai Shek!” and the last one because it was thoughtful. There you can see I am experiencing shock as someone eats spiders and I point, then I see people pushing to get on the subway and I point. Finally in the third frame you see a bus driver seeing me pointing and thinking, “I thought pointing was rude?” A great example of the different ways that people see behavior.
Culture shock has abounded for me here in Shanghai, mainly in a negative way. Most things I have gotten used to. Spitting, peeing in bushes in plain view, picking your nose in plain view, talking at volume 10, littering, standing in doorways/stopping at the mouths of escalators are all things I think are uncouth, but I quickly get over them. Probably the one thing that does continue to bother me is the way people push to get on the subway. Maybe this is because I am often directly involved. I would think pushing to get a seat would be rude, but perhaps rational. Pushing to get into a subway car when the people in your way are the ones coming out is just stupid.
In any case, I won’t have to deal with these things much longer. In two months I will be finishing here at SMIC and then heading to the Canada and the US for some conferences and time with family. After that, we are heading to Penang. I’m sure a whole host of new annoyances await me, but at least for now I can imagine that nothing will bother me. Just to freshen up, I have order Culture Shock: Malaysia to get a handle on customs. I remember looking for customs for China and some of them are very true, like savings face, but most of the things I dealt with everyday I never learned in a guidebook. Thinking back, there are very few things I will miss about Shanghai, but I will miss my students. They have been some of the best students I have ever had. There is something about the Confucianism in East Asia which makes the students some of the best from a teacher’s point of view. Sometimes I think about teaching in the U.S. again and it makes me wonder if I ever can after being so spoiled in East Asia.
The whole Malaysia experience will be a fresh one. Neither Aya nor I have ever been to Malaysia and the job I am taking will be a new experience as it is in the IB system. We are probably heading in other new territory as we intend to stay for a while and to start a family, but I think that is all better saved for a future post.
For now I will enjoy the things I do about Shanghai, especially my students, and dream of the summer. It is almost here.