LETTER FROM TOKYO: Asian Kids Vs. White Kids

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evathumb.jpgAn observational study on the differences between western and Asian students studying in Japan by Eva Liao

TOKYO, JAPAN — I’m in class for four hours a day, which means I am bored to the brink of insanity 20 hours a week. I’m amazed I’m not bald from pulling my hair out from the roots. There’s  nothing else to do but to analyze the people in my classes. Forgoing political correctness for a stint, I must say, it’s truly amazing how clear-cut some stereotypes really are.

The subjects: Korean, Taiwanese, Chinese, Thai, Indian, French, British, Italian, German, Canadian, and American students

The setting: Small classroom; average 15 people

The ambassador: Small, sometimes old,  unassuming Japanese women (our Sensei)

The atmosphere: Death.

Comparison #1 : Complaining

Westerners complain. A lot. They whine, bitch and moan about everything, be it relevant or irrelevant. They like to be heard. They have about 5,920,472 grievances and two opinions about each one.

Asians do not complain. They take the abuse, dutifully and often with a smile. Chances are, they have the same grievances. But years of rigid schooling and strong work ethic make them a little bit more thick skinned. Whether or not they have an opinion is debatable, but if they do, they sure as hell aren’t going to share it with you.east_vs_west.jpg

Comparison #2: Authority

The westerner sees the teacher as an equal, a peer amongst adults.  If the Sensei makes an insulting over generalization or an asinine demand, which is not uncommon, the westerner will rebuke. He will ask questions, he will challenge the subject at hand. Whether or not the rebuke is warranted is up for debate, but the westerner believes in discussing discrepancies and if need be, challenging authority in defense of personal value and beliefs.

Asians rarely challenge or doubt authority. The hierarchy between Sensei and student is clear. Thus no matter how absurd the technique or demand, the Asian student always acquiesce. Asian students take authority at face value, and  are less likely to analyze information before digesting it.

Comparison #3: Fashion and Apparel

The average western person dresses very, well…average. Outliers include cute, fashionable women and very sloppy boys in sweats and flip-flops.

The average Asian person also dresses in a casual, plain manner- jeans, t-shirt, sneakers. But on the whole, their fashionable counterparts are much trendier. In a word, fashionable Asian people are FLY. Some go overboard with the gaudy makeup and short skirts, tacky hair color and ill-fitting shoes, but ultimately, they exert a lot more effort which doesn’t go unappreciated. MORE

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