Beyond culture shock: he blew his nose in class

A fun story from one of my students:

When I first went to America there were many things i wasn’t familiar with. The most shocking story of all happened during my first day in American school. A kid sitting next to me stood up in the middle of class, walked all the way to the back, took a Kleenex from the box, and he started to blow his nose.

It was beyond culture shock. I couldn’t even imagine this ever happening in a Korean school, but no one was surprised. It’s one of the most embarrassing things you can do and should never be done in class. Like farting real loud in the middle of class.

In Korea, people sniffle to avoid blowing their nose in class. It was the other way around in America. I got used to this pretty quickly and I started to love it. But one time I blew my nose in class in Korea. Everyone looked at me as though I had just farted. I learned it’s important to know when to switch my gear.

Filed Under: Cultural bumps & perceptions

About the Author

James Trotta began teaching public speaking in 2002 and interview skills in 2008. Somewhere in between he began teaching intercultural communication, public speaking, and resume / cover letter writing.

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