at home in... w| Gerald Zhang-Schmidt

Look Closer, Learn More, #GetAtHome In This World

Tag: intercultural oddities

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(Ab)Normalities Between Cultures

What if it’s them who just do things wrong?

As discussed before, adapting to a different culture and another social context can make it necessary to forget yourself. Not in the metaphorical sense of forgetting your good manners (I’m assuming you have some), but by loosening what you consider normal, and even what you consider you, in order to act appropriately.

The other side of this issue, however, is what you do when it’s not about the way you act in communication, for example, but about something that you feel goes more deeply, could potentially affect your very life. The things that just are or aren’t done, and not simply because it’s normal for you, but also because it makes sense, (not) to do them.

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A Chinese Summer Night’s Entertainment

From the archives of my time in China, one for the “Odd Saturdays“… some collective dancing – or does that qualify as soft aerobics?

The better question, though, may be why we in the West see such pastimes as collectivist and somehow whack, while going to the disco and dancing in individualistic confusion.
And, what’s better, pastimes to engage in together and meet (or at least, be with) other people without much need to do anything but join in, or single living that only offers community if you actively go out, make friends, and organize it all?

You’re also just welcome to enjoy the short look into the rather rural, university-campus, China, though…

There’s one more dancing vid to come, actually…

The Power of Boobs in China

In the spirit of my small series of “Odd Saturday” posts on (inter)cultural oddities, things that seem perfectly normal in one cultural context, and very strange in another, a little video view into part of the Chinese attitude towards gender.

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China’s Law of Rules

Since I got to China, the dichotomy between what the country feels ike from the outside and how things are when you are inside has often struck me. Going just by the reports, China would seem to be a single-party autocracy strictly controlled, without freedom, without law. So, get Beijing to recognize (the Western definition of) human rights, follow the rule of law, and all’s well and good.

Saying it like that, of course, is a prelude to taking this idea apart.

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Odd Saturday: Rapture Edition

If you want to save lives, maybe you want a life jacket; if it’s the rapture, maybe you want to get busy… and when you get simple things, put into a different context, you may get lots to think about.

Case in point: vending machine on a wall at Changsha’s Hunan University.


#1: China’s sometimes said to be the country with the largest number of English speakers. Judging by Chinglish, especially in translations, it may be English learners, but it’s not English in very recognizable forms that’s actually common…

#2: My hometown, Vienna, is now finally getting public transport announcements in more than just German, our native language… China’s had a fascination with English for a while (and in public transport, it’s pretty okay to near-perfect)

#3: For a country that people (read: foreigners) still believe to be prudish to the point of not even allowing “PDA” (public displays of affection), you can be in for quite a few surprises. As so often, the simple-minded “truths” about other places are misleading, a deeper look is necessary if you want to really know what is (in)appropriate and in what circumstances…


Odd Saturday: Eden in China

City-Eden-ShoesMaybe I shouldn’t even be calling that odd; advertisements are often strange, after all. When cultural/religious ideas from different places collide in advertisements, there are things that you could let slide, or can wonder about a lot.

The very association of Eden with a city, if you want to think about it…


Odd Saturday: Re-Branded

Once you have an established brand name that’s associated with luxury, why not re-purpose it?

"Kobbo" store

Odd Saturday: You Say Kappa, I Say Kobbo…

"Kobbo" storeTo anybody who’s been to – or even just heard about – China, fakes may appear normal rather than odd, but there are some observations around that issue that are only too interesting.

One case, right here (and there’ll be more, though I’ll try not to overdo it):
That store opened on a bigger intersection here in Xiangtan, opposite two bigger department stores, about a year ago – and closed after a few months.
In a way I’ve found employed rather often, brand names, logos and other typical elements of branding are taken over with some modification so that it looks kinda similar, but is not the same. Furthermore, it is said that this were a foreign company (French, in this case). – And there you go: it’s not a fake, it’s different after all, but it’s also similar enough to be mis-recognizable as the brand on which it’s modeled.

Playin' for Another Team...

Odd Saturday: Playin’ for Another Team…

Playin' for Another Team...

The government always wins, but why not show some support?

Officially unveiling my attempt at a new series (after the ill-fated “20 sec. China” videos which went missing with the migration of my blog to a new site), looking for cultural oddities. And given the shift in perspective that three years of China may have given, I’m hoping to continue that also when I get back to Europe…

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