A Touchy Subject by Judy H.

28 Feb

The first time I heard the phrase “a touchy subject” was from the BBC English Learning Program during my sort-of everyday morning walk. It caught my attention immediately. I think it could be quite a big and pretty interesting topic since we live in a multicultural society.

In the past decades, via my own experiences, as I learned about the Eastern cultures and the Western culture, I understand that for sure they have some differences. However nowadays, it seems more like people of my generation and the younger people are living on different planets because often I don’t even understand many newly created words used by the younger generation.

Here are a few examples about the cultural differences. People who live in the Western culture like to joyfully share their personal excitement with friends and even persons they just met. This happens in situations such as baby showers, an engagement, pregnancy, or house-warming parties, and home-coming parties. This happened to me. I was happily surprised when a person whom I had just met showed me her engagement ring. I was truly happy for her, and she received my congratulations.

In the Eastern cultures, these cheerful pieces of news are most likely shared only with family members and relatives. However, if some day you wear a new, upscale coat to a party or work, after you are praised by people, the next question may be “Where did you buy it?” Or “How much did you pay for it?” Also, people seem to feel free to ask about others’ weights, their jobs, their incomes, and perhaps, progress in their love affairs.

Before I arrived in the US, I had already mentally prepared myself to face some cultural differences. To me, language study is a top priority and second is cultural study. The culture is invisible, however. It is part of anywhere you go, anything you do. You must deal with people. I try not to touch on “touchy subjects” because I would like to avoid offending others. In order to do this, I study local conditions and customs so that I am well-prepared before visiting other countries.

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