Nigerian Cultural Norms

The morning that I arrived in Abuja, my luggage did not arrive with me. I left Baltimore with two suitcases and one carry-on. However, I arrived in Abuja with just the carry-on to my name. So, I filed the necessary claims (sans one of my luggage claim receipts) and proceeded to begin my new life with my ONE piece of luggage. Initially, I thought it’s cool, I’ll have to wait maybe a couple of days. Well, what I thought would be a two-day wait actually turned into two weeks. That was two weeks wearing about 5 of the same outfits and two pairs of shoes TO WORK. Needless to say, I was super excited when I received the call that my luggage had finally shown up to the airport. So I go to the area where the luggage is being held with my happy, excited American self and say “Hello. I received a call that my luggage has arrived. Could you please tell me where I should go?” The man looks at me with disgust and says “If you’re going to be here, you need to learn the proper way to greet us. It’s ‘Good morning’ and then you ask a question!” He continued to fuss and I drowned him out with “Good morning. Good morning. Good morning.” He waved me off in a general direction and I eventually got my luggage. Continue reading “Nigerian Cultural Norms”

Dude, Where’s My Mail?

Forgive my reference to the tacky, yet hilarious, 2000 movie staring Aston Kutcher. But just like the movie, my search for and expectation to receive packages sent from the U.S. are both futile and absolutely comedic. First, in order to get anything done in China, you MUST speak the language. There is simply no way around it. Well, I don’t speak the language. Therefore, I have to garner the assistance of Chinese work colleagues to assist me with things as simple as tracking down my packages. Continue reading “Dude, Where’s My Mail?”

How to Overcome the Chinese Stare: PETTINESS ALERT

The most difficult thing for me to get accustomed to is, by far, the stare of the Chinese. I read about it. Heard it mentioned in stories of travelers I know, but nothing and I mean absolutely nothing, prepared me for what I have deemed the Chinese stare. Don’t get me wrong, there are several places where people have extended their glance in my direction: India, Guatemala, Italy and Colombia are the first places that come to mind. Admittedly, the locals in each place stared for different reasons, but I never felt offended or uncomfortable. The Chinese however, my oh my do they take staring to a completely different level. I’ve had people trip, bump into one another, ride their bikes into trees, fail to yield in their cars and, of course, take my picture without my permission while eating, walking, shopping, handling business in the bank or engrossed in conversation. And it’s not even that they look you in your face. They look you up and down. Some people frown and furrow their brows while others stare with a look of surprise. And then there are those that giggle, point and whisper. I swear I wish I knew enough Chinese expletives for the latter. In my attempt to be as culturally sensitive as possible I asked my Chinese colleagues, “Yo! What’s up with the staring?” A question to which I’ve received basically the same answer – “They know it’s wrong, but they do it anyway. They don’t know it makes you uncomfortable.” …..Oh really now? They don’t know? Well, I’ve received quite a bit of advice on how best to deal with this intrusive, uncomfortable and dare I say, rude business of staring, but I’ve devised my own three ways of dealing with this madness. Yes, some may think it’s petty, but I can’t say that I’m torn up about that. *shrugs*

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My toes were so interesting to this girl. She stared at me and them from the moment she came into the salon until the moment she left.

Continue reading “How to Overcome the Chinese Stare: PETTINESS ALERT”

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