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Thread: Early Experiences with Different Cultures

  1. #1
    Tawaci ki a Gnaska ki Osito Polar's Avatar
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    Early Experiences with Different Cultures

    I remember being in Mexico City when I was five or six years old.

    At one point, I recall being curled up in the back of a truck with a bag of candy. The candy came in small brightly colored boxes with crazy cartoon characters printed on them but usually with few or no clues as to what might be in each container.

    At that age, I had a basic handle on reading English but little knowledge of Spanish.

    In my memory the boxes said things like:

    Burraschitos
    Chicamaschetas
    Vamanoscielos
    Purotacos
    Valosmirobles

    You know, vaguely Spanish-sounding things that didn't mean anything to me.

    I'd already learned that opening the boxes and eating the things inside of them was at best a dicey proposition. I think my tender young tastebuds had already been traumatized by some variety of weird salty/fruity Mexican candy. I liked looking at the packages though and I wondered if I would ever be able to understand them. They fascinated me.

    What are your earliest memories of a different culture or language?
    "I don't have psychological problems." --Madrigal

    "When you write about shooting Polemarch in the head, that's more like a first-person view, like you're there looking down the sight of the gun." --Utisz

    David Wong, regarding Chicago
    Six centuries ago, the pre-Colombian natives who settled here named this region with a word which in their language means "the Mouth of Shadow". Later, the Iroquois who showed up and inexplicably slaughtered every man, woman and child renamed it "Seriously, Fuck that Place". When French explorer Jacques Marquette passed through the area he marked his map with a drawing of a brownish blob emerging from between the Devil's buttocks.

  2. #2
    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    I remember going to school in Canada and at first not understanding what people said. I had to take private lessons with some tutor at school to learn more English.

    Finally, one day, my teacher said she wasn't sure about something so she wanted to know my opinion (me = 6 years old). She wanted to know if I still thought I "needed" to take the extra English lessons. I couldn't believe it. If it had been up to me, I never would have taken those boring lessons in the first place! I said no, I didn't need them anymore, and they said okay.

    It was one of those memories that stick with you because I was so shocked that I had any decision-making power as a kid. I realized these people were weird and did things differently.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    Heh. We've been here years now.

  3. #3
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    My mom took me to Taiwan when I was 4. My memories of this trip are hazy at best. I remember the heat and humidity felt like a wall when we walked out the sliding glass airport doors, and it was shocking. I remember getting my hair done at a salon. After that we took a family photo with my extended family in Taiwan. I don't remember taking the photo, but I've seen it and I remember my hairdo from the salon, and recognized it in the photo. I remember there wasn't a whole lot of furniture in the place we stayed, bedrooms were just a mat and some blankets on the floor. I think we stayed with my grandparents, who still lived in Taiwan at the time. They lived in a duplex, and the kitchens for each duplex were in this no-mans land between or behind the two apartments. In one doorway (there was no door) was my grandma's kitchen and in the other was the neighbor's kitchen. I would always accidentally start to walk into the neighbor's kitchen, and for some reason my mother would start yelling at me frantically as if I had just stumbled into a drug deal or mob hit in action. Jeez mom, it's just a lady cooking dinner. Maybe the chinese are sensitive about that sort of thing, but then why would they put the kitchens in this communal spot? I also remember someone offering me a popsicle and I was all excited about it, but then I tasted it and it was a tea popsicle and it was disgusting. Other countries' treats are never as good as yours. I think this is universal. Or do kids come to the US from other countries and they cannot believe what they were missing out on over there?

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    chaotic neutral shitpost jigglypuff's Avatar
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    when i was maybe 5 or 6-ish i visited my blind great-grandmother who lived in the chinese countryside (which is now becoming a thing of the past, i hear). there were more of her family and relatives there but idk how exactly they were related to me. i remember her touching my brother's arms and hands and saying he felt fat. i also remember lots of beautiful chili plants. for fun we played with the other children catching tiny fish in a stream. i taught somebody how to say "water" in english, but she said it like "watt." i was afraid to go outside to the hole in the ground to take a shit. we went to visit our ancestors' graves and i remember lots of firecrackers.

    i remember being extremely culture-shocked the first time i visited europe at maybe 8-ish (??), but i don't remember why. like, switzerland. something about these old-fashioned candy shops. and how all the countries were so fucking small.

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    chaotic neutral shitpost jigglypuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by starla View Post
    My mom took me to Taiwan when I was 4...
    my dad and his side of the family is from taiwan, and i only just visited taiwan for the first time last year, as an adult. my dad hasn't been back there in like 30 years and we actually went back to his birthplace and childhood city, tainan. he says all these places you have to pay to get into now, he used to just hang around freely when he was a kid, places like koxinga temple and confucian temple. i sat in front of confucian temple watching musicians perform some western oldies songs, and some traditional songs on traditional instruments, while he went off on a walk by himself, remembering things. god, i can't even imagine how much the place must've changed in 30 years.

    outside confucian temple, somebody stationed a morbidly obese dog with signs about animal abuse, trying to raise money. i got really mad and upset cuz these people left this dog without water in the sweltering heat, probably hoping this pitiful dog would collect more money. also i went to a store selling magic mushroom tea* with a salesman talking about how cruel the milk industry is and how western kids drink too much milk (true, imo).

    my dad says taiwanese should be "half" my identity but i never went there as a child while i visited hong kong and the mainland countless times, so i never had the chance to develop that identity... chinese people are pretty touchy about that sort of thing.

    * idk, i forgot its scientific/formal mushroom name, but it's this medicinal mushroom that's supposed to prevent and cure all kinds of illnesses and it's basically... magic.
    Last edited by jigglypuff; 08-09-2014 at 01:29 AM.

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    libertine librarian sandwitch's Avatar
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    I spent part of the summer in central mexico when I was 7, maybe. I remember going to Spanish classes with my brothers and playing Bingo, being determined not to learn anything. The teacher didn't really care, and now I really wish that I had. My grandparents had really cool art all over their house and I fussed a lot about climbing pyramids in the heat. Apparently we also went through a mummy museum, but I think I blocked those memories. We also took excursions to pick fruit off of cacti, which I enjoyed, and rode donkeys at an orphanage, which terrified me.

    I was pretty myopic about it all, so I'm not sure how much I really experienced the culture, aside from being confused by how excited my grandparents' maids were to see me. They tried to help me make tortillas with them, but it turned out terribly and I gave up.

    We spent another summer in Guadalajara a few years later. We visited a lot of different homes. I always thought the kids were assholes and I'd hang out with the maids instead. They seemed to think I was cute and gave me chocolate to drink. I very much disliked the butchers' shops, and I wanted my mom to buy something from every street vendor. We were there as short term missionaries, and it really confused me that we were telling Christians about Jesus.

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    wetback Space Invaders Champion Fitz's Avatar
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    I'm not sure it fits exactly what the OP is going for but it's the first time I was made aware of all the bullshit.

    In kindergarten I got profiled and put into the esl classes which were mostly done in Spanish. There I am this translucent white kid with blond hair not knowing a word of spanish. I was immediately ostracized by every student in that class. I looked nothing like them, I couldn't communicate with them, but hey I had the superduper beaner name. That's gotta count for something but only made things worse with them for some reason. The teacher finally realized I was as mexican/hispanic/chicano/latino/whateversillytermtheyhavenow as taco bell and they transferred me into the regular class where they then ostracized me because of my super duper beaner name. The first week of school and I was too white for the brown people and too brown for the white people.

    From that moment on I began using my whiteman name. relatively smooth sailing ever since.

  8. #8
    I visited Quebec a few times in elementary school and was constantly fascinated by French. Not the culture there, just the language. My first real culture-shock-worthy experience was a trip to Kenya in middle school. I mostly remember feeling uncomfortable with how much we were stared at--I had waist-length blonde hair, and my brother is a true redhead, so we stood out a bit. I was fortunate enough to sleep through a terrifying car ride and be completely unphased by a tiny tiny plane, the conditions in the local hospital, the haggling at the local market, etc. I spent a lot of time trying to learn the language, and a fair amount of time just screwing around on the expat compound. My clearest memories are actually of the safari we took.

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    Otaku
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    The very first times aren't significant because I didn't understand a damn thing anyways.

    I do remember once when I visited my mother who was working in the southern part of my country, and was taken to the market. The shopkeepers kept asking me questions, but I couldn't decipher their thick accents, and it seemed the more lost I was the more they liked to put me on the spot, as if it was a great joke. The problem is that we literally perceive our northern accent as right and all other accents as wrong, so even though the south was and still is the more modern commercial center, it is mostly only ever them who have to learn to speak both ways, not vice versa. You'd invoke classist scorn if you spoke differently here and resented if you spoke differently there. It's such a touchy thing.

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    Senior Member Limes's Avatar
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    I grew up ten years in a predominantly Jamaican ghetto and ten years in an overwhelmingly predominant Pakistani ghetto.

    I remember an early memory living on the 13th floor of a tower block and watching Rastafarians build the biggest set of speakers I'd ever seen (and maybe still).

    Then there would be a constant reggae bassline, every weekend, starting at about 11am, a sort of melodic raggae trance of budda-budda budda-budda budda-budda boom-boom.
    A sort of structure of eight, with 1/4 denoted.

    The Rastas were different to the other Jamaicans, they had taken not giving a fuck and not complying to an art form level. If the police gave them a hard time, they gave it right back and it was the same with their kids and teachers.

    Later, as a teen, I found it offensive that if a Muslim girl even looked my way, they would literally want to set her on fire to retain their honor.

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