This week the students were asked to talk about other countries. The topic for this English corner was to tell us about what they know about a different culture. In today’s discussion, students talked about different countries, religions, music and clothing. Culture can also include many topics outside of the ones that were listed in the English corner topic. It was amazing to hear how much everyone knows about the world around us, and their thoughts on the topic.
Students talked about many different countries. They talked about Asian countries like Vietnam, Japan, Singapore and Thailand. Other students talked about nearby countries like India and Australia. One student talked about religion, a few others talked about the weather, clothing and holidays.
Another student talked about driving and the animals in Australia. Some students talked about other provinces in China, and the differences you can see from province to province within China.
There was a vast variety of topics discussed tonight, and I will try to list as many as I can.
One student talked about a “taxi bike” you can take in Vietnam. They call the bike “guests die first”, the guest sits in front of the driver. He mentioned that “if there was an accident the guest will be hit first.” That is how the bike got its name. Tipping was another difference he talked about. For example, at hotels in Vietnam, it was customary to leave a few money in the room as a tip for the hotel staff. In Mexico for example, where I have visited, leaving a tip means you are happy with their service. In Mexican resorts, the hotel rooms have “honor bars” (small fridges), with food and snacks for you to enjoy for free. When you tip the room cleaners, they always make sure to give you the best beer, pop and snacks they have.
Another mentioned that Japan is an island country, and the staple food is fish and it is extremely famous for sushi. “Traditional sushi in Japan is made from Japanese fish and Japanese rice.” Traditional sushi is only to be made with ingredients from Japan.
Gestures were discussed tonight. In Thailand some gestures are seen as an insult. “When you give someone a ‘thumbs up’ in a western country, it means you approve, or that it is good. When you give someone a ‘thumbs up’ in Thailand, it’s not a nice thing.” It is not an extremely mean thing to do, but it is not nice. It is strange how such a small thing could be construed so differently in other cultures.
Other countries that were discussed were India and Australia. In India it is believed that a person’s head is sacred. Being the highest point of the body they believe that your head should not be touched by anyone else. I believe this is from a Buddhist belief that the spirit resides in a person’s head, and touching the head is considered very intrusive.
In Australia a student noted how different driving can be. In Australia driving can be quite dangerous because of all the kangaroos in the country. “Hitting one on the highway will cause considerable damage to the car, since the kangaroos are so big.” Drivers must be very careful and very attentive when on the highway.
Some students also mentioned the differences in China and the west, and the differences among some Chinese provinces. The biggest difference among them is that of eating, for example, the chopstick VS the knife and fork. They talked about how different utensils have shaped the food we eat and how it is prepared. In china meat is in smaller pieces and easy to pick up with a chopstick. But in Canada meat is served in a large piece and must be cut to eat. One student talked about Xi’an, the capital city of Shaanxi Province. One student talked about the food in Hong Kong and how very different it is from Sichuan food. “The food in Hong Kong is very sweet, and the food must not be as healthy if it has too much sugar in it. Also you can find many desserts in Hong Kong that are difficult to find in other parts of China.”