Thats a thing?!

Hey again everyone,

There are certain aspects of culture you never read about in the books and won’t ever discover until you have lived in and immersed yourself in a culture different than your own. For example, in a student-teacher environment in America, students handing in their homework at the end of the day nonchalantly toss their work on the teacher’s desk, tuning out school announcements and tuning in on bathroom gossip. Here in China, it is only appropriate to turn in your homework to the teacher with both of your hands graciously extended in front of you. As foreign students, we are given some leeway with these customs, but are still made aware of their presence simply by living here. This is a thing.

This is just an example. These differences in culture, elusive to the history books and Culture 330 classes, I will be referring to as “things.” Yes, “things.” Because how else do you talk about these things? Its the only way I know how to express that feeling when something happens or someone does something you would never see or here back at home and you turn to your friend and say, “So…thats a thing?” Yeah, its a thing. Its something that people do; its something that people say. Its just a thing! And I am here to report back these things of the world you wont read in your textbook.

First Thing of Notice: Diarrhea (Warning: Not for those with a weak stomach! Totally kidding. You’ll be fine. But seriously, sorry about this less than pleasant topic.)

How do we think about diarrhea in America? I find myself uncomfortably dealing with this thought as I am presented with an equally uncomfortable situation. I was sitting in the dorm lobby waiting on some friends to head out for dinner. One of my newer teachers from China walked into the lobby and cheerfully greeted me.

“Hey, He Li! Are you meeting friends?”

(He Li 何丽 is my Chinese name, given to me by my first teacher at University of Kentucky: Shout outs to Jiang Wei!)

“Yeah, I am. We are going to a local Xinjiang restaurant. You should totally come with us!”

“Oh, thats so nice! But I just got off the toilet. Diarrhea is so troublesome, you know?”

“Well….yeah, it really is. Next time, okay?”

-Smiles all the way-

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not exactly conservatively-minded, and often talk openly about such things with close friends. Its just my personality. But I will admit I was shocked to hear this from a virtual stranger, and an authoritative figure on top of that. How do you respond? Is this a thing here? Do you guys think this is a thing at home (America), that maybe I have just been immune to my whole life?

After consulting with friends, I have discovered that yes, it is a thing, and people talk very openly about bowels (especially diarrhea) with not only friends and family, but with the cashier at the Wal-Mart on the corner. I am not here to judge. I am only here to say, “thats a thing?”


另:To any Chinese friends, I hope this observation is not offensive to you! It is simply that, an observation. Lets make it equal. I am American, and I had McDonalds THREE TIMES the other day. So, not only am I perpetuating my own stereotype of being a fat and health-oblivious American, but also dealt with some bathroom issues of my own a bit later. BOOM! Equal. And gross. So sorry…We cool? Until next time.







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