You look different than the majority in the country that you’re living in (maybe even your name is so hard to pronounce that it makes people cry) – and that leads sometimes to really awkward moments. Embarrassing moments. People ask you the weirdest stuff and come up with really strange questions. Culture shock. Sounds familiar to you? I’ve had plenty of those moments, which I’ve often shared with my family and close friends. I realized that people find those stories very entertaining, whether they are funny or shocking. I want to share my Top 10 of The Most Embarrassing Cultural Moments with you guys. I’m sure that some of you can relate to my stories. If so, feel free to share your stories, too. Just drop a comment. And now, enjoy my Top 10 to 6! 🙂
10) ‘Did You Repeat A School Year?’
One of my fellow-students in my Bachelor program asked me this question. To be honest, more than embarrassed, I was annoyed. When I started my BA I just turned 20, which is usual in the county (in West Germany) where I graduated from high school. In the county where I went to university apparently 18 is the age of high school graduation. I may look foreign and have a foreign name, but it doesn’t mean that I’m less smart than other kids.
9) ‘It’s crappy that your parents are forcing you to be good in school.’
Truth is, my parents never knew what I was up to in school. They didn’t even know my grades. They just let me do my thing. I have been very ambitious from childhood days and I’ve always known what I wanted. That sentence was just insane. I think that person watched too much TV and just ate all those stereotypes about strict Asian parents.
8) ‘Will your parents force you to marry someone?’
I have been asked this question when I was around 13. I never even thought of marriage at that age, so you can imagine that I was caught off guard by this question. I know that people from “western” countries have this picture of people from “southern” countries in their mind, where young girls are being married off without their consent. I must admit that this stereotype was so annoying that I eventually decided to make fun of it. I told two of my teachers (and a couple of classmates, too) that I’d be forced to marry a guy that I’ve never met before. I was just 14. I asked my teachers if they’d come for my wedding. Guys, I’m not kidding: Both said they’d come if they received an invitation. That was hilarious! I never told them that they were being spoofed. I know, I was a very mischievous child.
7) The Guy in the restaurant
Once I went out for dinner with a friend. After some time my friend told me that the guys in the corner were talking about me all the time. I said it’s ok. And then the guys got up and one of them stopped just a few meters from me and speculated audibly from which country I’m from. That wasn’t ok with me anymore. I told that guy that instead of speculating he could just ask me where I’m from. The whole restaurant could hear me. He started throwing wild guesses at me, such as Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil. That guy was seriously unfriendly. In the end, I told him where I’m from. He just grunted: ‘Nobody could have ever guessed that.’ And off he went, no friendly word, no thank you for solving the mystery, no ‘Have a nice evening!’ I was embarrassed for that guy, not myself. In German there’s a special word for that: ‘Fremdschämen.’
6) ‘You’re Muslim and not a terrorist???’
Surprise. What more can I say. A very sad line. I just hope that that person who asked me that question eventually learned that being a Muslim isn’t a synonym to being a terrorist.