Teaching Western Etiquette in China
Next semester, I have a unique opportunity. I will be teaching a class called ‘Western Etiquette’ and I am free to create the lessons myself. The stated goal of the class is to familiarize students with manners and customs in the West and help them to understand how they should behave if they go abroad.
This should be fun. After living here for a few years, we should have plenty to talk about class. I especially look forward to teaching about some of the DO’s and DONT’s in Western countries — but especially the DONT’s. Those are more fun because I can draw them directly from my experience living here.
They are already popping into my head. Here the top 8 things that people do here that they SHOULDN’T do in the West:
- Walk up to another man (like your teacher for example) and say “Hey handsome, how’s it going?” I have two or three boys do this to me at least three times a semester.
- Tell your teacher that you can’t participate in the class outing because “I’m on my period”. Yep. I’ve heard this one more than once. TMI!
- Tell someone that you’ve only met recently that they’re fat and should lose some weight. Okay, so this didn’t happen to me directly but I’ve seen it happen. Chinese people can be very straightforward sometimes and making a comment about someone’s weight isn’t necessarily considered rude here.
- Let a door slam in the face of the person who walking behind you. Recently, one of my friends actually saw a boy at a local restaurant let a door hit a girl behind him and then to my friend’s amazement, they both sat down together. They were boyfriend and girlfriend…
- Cut in line. Students of mine who try to cut their way through a line in the West (like they do here) will be in for a rude surprise. In my city, Chinese people barely even notice when this happens, it’s so common…
- Pick the food out our teeth immediately after dinner while you’re still sitting at the table. GROoooSS! Need I say more…?
- Answer your cell phone no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Voice mail for cell phones is almost unheard of here. It’s rude NOT to pick up you’re phone even if you’re being rude to the people that you’re with when you receive the call!
- Play a song at full volume on your cell phone in a public place (like a bus or airplane) because you think that everyone else will enjoy it. I think people just like to show off their cell phones here or something…
Can you think of some more? I’d be grateful for some more ideas as I’m preparing for my class!