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Excuse me please….Culture Bump!!!

We are a CNPC group named Rose from China, taking part in an international financial training program in the University of Houston. In China, we know that there are cultural differences between China and America. And we try to be careful so as not to bring inconvenience to others. But two days ago, an experience in a supermarket was a great culture bump for us, leaving a deep impression on us.

On that day, we went shopping at WAL-MART supermarket. WAL-MART is very large and spacious, and the distance between the shelves is large enough to pass three carts at the same time. Laura put her cart close to the shelf and began to concentrate on selecting goods. Suddenly, she heard someone say “Excuse me” to her. When she turned around, she found a guy standing 2 meters away, waiting with a smile. She said “sorry” and moved her cart to her side a little bit. At the beginning, she felt very embarrassed thinking that her cart blocked the way. But the truth is when she looked, she saw that the man was far enough away with enough space for him to pass. So she felt surprised and confused, “Why did he say Excuse me? What am I doing wrong?” After discussion, we found all of us had similar experiences and feeling. Therefore, with these questions and doubts, we interviewed four students at the University of Houston.

After talking with them, we realized that Americans show their intimate relationship with others by using space, normally 6 to 18 inches from the other person can be considered as a close relationship, so Americans do not want to step into others’ personal space. At the same time, Americans keep themselves physically away from others to show their respect as well. In addition, Americans also say excuse me when others really block their ways. However, in China, as long as we think the space is enough, we will quietly pass by others. This is because we show our respect to others by not disturbing them.

Cultural differences are natural and complex, and can be found everywhere. During the period we study in America, we will experience more culture bumps. Fortunately, Professor Carol Archer taught us many important ways to overcome the culture bumps, which mainly include stopping at the culture bumps, self-reflecting and reconnecting. We believe that these useful methods will lead to a deeper understanding between Americans and us. We will learn to relax and enjoy the life in America.

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