A Sartorial Introduction

No generic product reviews or experiences with the next online MTM debacle will be recounted here either. The general premise of these articles is to foster a sense of understanding, and…


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Culture Shocks and Reverse Culture Shocks from Living Around The World

In Germany talking to a waiter is merely a transaction. Small talk doesn’t happen; it is inefficient. Efficiency permeates the German way of life — except when wanting to pay, the waiter always disappears somehow.

After being back from Germany for a year, I found myself in California. I was eating breakfast with a friend. A waitress approached us.

“Is there any chai?” asked my friend.

The waitress explained how she loved chai, but there was no chai. Then they talked about the places where they have gone to drink chai.

The conversation then moved on to its varieties and how it can be served.

I had no idea there was much to be talked about chai. A damn dissertation thesis unfolded before my ears.

Suddenly, I found myself thinking, when is the waitress going to ask me what I want to order? Isn’t it a bit rude and unprofessional to be talking that much?

Suddenly, it struck me that I had become used to the waitresses’ minimal interaction. Now I laugh at my thought — I am aware it was a bit harsh.

During my first few days back in the US, I met a few Americans who told me they were Italian. I was so excited. I have been learning Italian for a few years. And every time I meet an Italian, I try to talk to them in Italian.

So, by instinct, I said something in Italian. After an uncomfortable silence, I asked them whether they spoke Italian. They would explain how their grandparents were Italian, but they did not speak a word of Italian.

“Have you lived in Italy then?” I would ask them. They said no.

How are you Italian then? The first few times this was weird.

If you trace a lot of Mexicans’ ancestors, obviously a lot would be from Spain. But no Mexican would ever say he or she is from Spain. If you were born in Mexico and grew up there, you are Mexican. Simple.

As for my fellow Americans, I had forgotten that ancestry is seen as part of where they (or we?) are from.

What is America’s greatest export?

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