Separation and Cultural Differences – Jackie from Westmont

The semester is coming to a close and I had thought that I had done pretty well not crossing any cultural lines that shouldn’t be crossed. Everyone I have met has been easy to get a long with. My roommates have been great. Communication with people has been a common thing. I have enjoyed learning about other cultures through food, living situation, and conversation. I didn’t expect what happened this week to happen at all. Another study abroad and myself were telling “your mom” jokes, completely unaware that we were frustrating her roommate, a Lithuanian. As we were walking out of the room still laughing to ourselves, the roommate simply stated, “Lithuanians don’t joke like that.” Being oblivious Americans my friend and I thought nothing of it and continued walking out of the room quoting White Chicks (if you’ve seen that movie you know that “your momma” scene that I am referring to, if not, it’s on youtube). For the next two days her roommate did not speak one word to us; in fact, she barely looked at us. For awhile we just thought she was mad about her housing situation next year and was acting that way with everyone. We finally realized that was not the case and she was clearly only mad at us. We searched our memories to find something that could have ticked her off. Nothing came to mind. Finally, we confronted her. She explained to us that she was not happy about us joking about mothers. WHAT? we thought, THAT WAS THE REASON? We were blown away that she did not speak to us for two whole days over an issue that to our American minds was so silly. Eventually she began talking to us again after we apologized and assured her that we were unaware of the fact that we were offending her. Obviously, another way to learn about other cultures is through argumentation, though it may not be the prime way to learn it is very effective. 
More than ever this week I was aware that there are still things going on at home while I am away. I found myself wishing that I could be in two places at once often this week. I miss my family and friends terribly, but I love being here with the people that I have become close to this semester. I’m still learning, I’m still growing, I’m still cherishing it all.
…Also, we got to go to the beach this week!!! It was beautiful!!

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