I traveled Central and Eastern Europe last year and found something interesting during my trip. Of course I was the only person from Japan in the group and people were curious because I was traveling alone and I do live in California. We did have members from Malaysia, Indonesia, UK, New Zealand and many members of the group were from Australia.
I may be overanalyzing this situation but I thought it was really interesting that they didn’t ask me this question! I am so used to people asking me this question over and over again in America. Everywhere I go, they want to ask me…“So what do you do?”
We had one American couple in their 60s and when we sat at the same table for dinner, they ask me..”So what do you do in California Yumi?” Within 10 minutes!! But people from Australia, New Zealand and UK never bothered to ask me about my job. I kept waiting for any of them to ask..after 1 day..we sat at the same table again on the third day..they were talking about the places we visited together..then 10 days together, they still didn’t ask me. But I finally told them that I didn’t want to return to work right after I go back to California..but I took two weeks off and it was really hitting my limit. So I told them I had to return to work like the next day..then they asked..”Really? What kind of job do you do?” Some of them asked me almost at the end of our journey.
“So what do you do?” In America, they love to ask what you do for living within 5-10 minutes of the first conversation. It’s like..”why do you care?” One thing I noticed about America is that this is a very competitive society in which people’s success is almost always measured based on how much money you make, what kind of job you have, where you live and what kind of degree you have. I am so tired of having to answer to these questions. I do not live in a nice neighborhood (!!), drive a decent car (prius), hold a decent job but it doesn’t pay me hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. I have a very nice steady job that keeps me really busy..but I am not doctor, lawyer, pharmacist, CEO, Executive..whatever whatever.
And the worst part is they remind me of the useless degree that I have. Sure, I did graduate from a well known University and I am proud of it but so “what did you study?” “Sociology” “Oh..” People often imply that I have a very useless degree without much potential to succeed financially. Oh well..But thanks for reminding me! I still owe my parents a lot of money and they wouldn’t let it go. LOL
I guess that is how people in America define themselves in this very diverse society.
In Japan, they would love to know..your birthday, the year you were born..to guess your age. Age is very important in Japan. Japanese culture values the importance of respect and we are often told to respect older people. Even if they are just one or two years older than me, I am supposed to speak politely..just because they are my senpai. (seniors) That’s how we define our identities in Japan and in America. I just had to share this with you because I think it is very interesting.
So do you know why people from U.K., New Zealand and Austria wouldn’t bother to ask what you do for living? People in America always ask..”What do you do?” “Where do you live?” “Do you own or rent a property..?” Well, I do rent in a impoverished neighborhood..right next to a very nice upscale city so it is a borderline between the poor and the rich but anyways this isn’t going to be my permanent residence and I don’t really care what other people think about me.
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