Sunday, July 3, 2011

Do You Know How Important A Piece of Tissue Is?

Hello! My name is Bing Li, from mainland China. I am a music therapy student from KU and will enter my senior year this coming fall. I’ve been to Thailand during the first study abroad program in the winter of 2008, and this is my second time visiting this amazing land. As the only person in this group who has grown up in an Asian country, thankfully, I had less difficulty accepting the life style in Thailand. I’ve seen my peers talk about culture shock and life changes; here, I would also like to share an experience about adjusting and readjusting between western and eastern life styles.
My deepest thought about the difference between daily life is: in US, it is possible to go out with an empty pocket; but in Asian countries (I’m mainly talking about mainland China and Thailand), you’d better to be a Doraemon (a famous Japanese cartoon character; a robot cat with a magical pocket full of interesting tools) to prepare for all kinds of situations. The number one thing that I always put in my bag is tissues. As some of my peers described in previous blogs, restrooms in many Asian countries, including China, Thailand, Japan, and Korea, are quite different from western countries. In my hometown, western toilets are more common to be used privately in houses, but less common to be found in public facilities, especially restaurants and hospitals. We believe that it is not clean or healthy to share sitting toilets with other people; indeed, some people would even squat on a sitting toilet when squat toilets are not available in public restrooms. Even though I’ve been living in US for three years, I still have difficulty accepting sitting toilet and need to put a lot of tissue on the toilet seat when using a public restroom.
On the other hand, when I began to adjust to American life, I found that it was nice to have a good and clean sitting toilet with flushing water and toilet paper aside. One thing I felt a little bit awkward about this Thailand trip was that many toilets in rural areas have no water flush system. Many times, we had to scoop up water from a tub aside and flush all by ourselves after using a restroom. However, compared to the tissue problem, this is not a big deal. For some unknown reason, people would not prepare tissues in most public restrooms (unless in some fancy places); I’ve seen that a lot in both China and Thailand. More interesting, in some places, they will put a tissue case in the bathroom but with no tissues in it (for example, the Sirindhorn Rehabilitation Center where we’re currently doing practicum at). This is something I could not understand but could accept; because that was the environment I grew up in. However, after going to US, I forgot the habit of keeping some tissues in my pocket all the time. The cost of forgetting this habit was huge; after having experience of squatting on a toilet for thirty minutes to wait for someone coming in with toilet paper, I decided that tissues would be the most important thing in my life.

Question for all my readers: Is there anything that you don’t feel important in regular daily life, but might be painful to lose it in some particular situations?

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness, Bing. What a relevant post for all of us. Every time I used the bathroom off of the Mahidol campus in Thailand was an adventure. You never knew what you were going to get, but it was best to be prepared. Alongside tissues, I also came to value hand sanitizer like I never knew I could. In the US, even if my hands get dirty, it's never far to a sink complete with running water and plenty of soap. Not the case in Thailand. Finding hand soap was a rare and exciting occasion and I used my Purell dozens upon dozens of times a day.