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認識美國人

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美國三年,花了很多力氣在交朋友,這過程當然不是一帆風順,在派對中被自動冷落在一旁,話不投機而出現尷尬沈默,盡力融入美國交際圈,卻因為文化差異還是不得其門而入的挫折。托學院的福,三年下來我認識的美國同學數以百計,除了點頭之交外,也很幸運找到幾位真心相待的朋友,今天就來談談一點小心得吧。



個人主義是美國文化的底蘊。比起台灣,這裡更強調個人特質,也給予不同性格更多包容,來自社會價值或是同儕的壓力比較少,更尊重個人隱私,也連帶拉遠了人與人之間的距離。雖然人際距離比較遠,美國人卻很會為了禮貌維持表面的熱絡,很多人容易把美國人表面的友善錯覺成是友誼,遇到挫折之後,失望地覺得美國人都很虛偽,這是大家都很容易經歷的文化衝擊。



就我個人的經驗來說,要認識美國人比較容易,參加一個活動可能跟幾十個陌生人攀談,但是要進一步發展成深入的友誼卻需要更久的時間。台灣人比較閉俗害羞,毫無關係的兩個人很難認識,跟陌生人說話幾乎等於搭訕,但若一旦認識了,似乎比較容易深入交心。



當然,語言能力還是交朋友最最根本的工具,人家說的話聽不懂,自己說的話又講不清,要找到好朋友還是有點難度,能夠用英文講一些比較深入複雜的議題,是深交朋友的關鍵。當然語言也不是全部,到了一個程度之後,更重要的是一個包容開放的心,與學習瞭解不同文化的熱情。



我在美國的人際關係經歷了三個階段。第一是初來乍到的蜜月期,這時覺得什麼事情都新鮮,什麼朋友都友善,什麼活動都參加,努力融入新環境,一切都很美好。第二是撞牆期,這段時間中,課業開始忙碌,大家開始忙不同的活動,人際上簡單的共通話題都已經講完,對話中常常冷場,會把美國人的友善當成友誼,把誇張的表現當成真心,進而覺得美國人很虛偽。第三是成熟穩定期,這時已經在新的社會裡找到自己的位置,能夠更包容地看待文化差異,更能自然地表現自己的人格特質,不會因為要融入環境讓自己痛苦萬分。可能因為我英文程度還不錯,又對世界充滿好奇心,我沒有經歷太長的撞牆期,似乎正慢慢過渡到第三階段,現在最重要的一課是要在台灣跟美國兩個文化間找到最好的平衡點。



前幾天偶然的機會下拿出國際學生手冊,重新把有關適應美國文化的章節讀了一遍,三年之後看,覺得更有體會,在這邊摘錄重點,希望對版友有幫助。



請參看耶魯國際學生中心的網頁:http://www.yale.edu/oiss/living/culture/americans/values.html



“Words such as would, could, can, may, and might are used to soften requests and ask for permission. When asking for permission, it is better to soften it by asking, “May I have one of these?”, rather than using a direct form such as, “I want one of these."”

“Even if they don’t know you, in the U.S. people often say, “Hi, how are you?” or “How are you doing?” and then do not wait for a response. This is a polite phrase, not really a question. You can respond by saying “Hi”, or “Fine, thanks.” You may also hear an American say, “Drop by anytime” or “Let’s get together soon.” These are friendly expressions, but they may not be meant literally. While they may be sincere, people are busy and do not always follow through on the invitation.”

Casual social life is especially evident in college and universities, because everyone is there for a relatively short period of time to pursue studies or research. The ease of casual relations are sometimes troubling to international students and scholars who have left their own friends and family at home and are learning to live in a new place. They naturally are looking for new friends and may sometimes find it very difficult to develop close relationships with Americans because they cannot seem to get beyond a very superficial acquaintance.”

You need to make an effort to meet people so that friendships can develop. The key to developing friendships is to participate fully in the activities you enjoy.”

“As part of the warmth of the culture Americans will often speak in an exaggerated way. Enthusiasm can sometimes rise to the level of being unbelievable, “Great to see you! You look fabulous. Let’s have lunch soon!” The American is not being insincere in this common style of expression. The meaning of this is probably something like “It is pleasant to see you and have this exchange on the street and it would be pleasant to see you again.””

“One thing that Americans are not comfortable within conversation is silence. Research has shown that Americans are uncomfortable with silences longer than three seconds, whereas other cultures may take up to seven seconds or more to respond.”
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“When they first encounter another person, Americans often engage in small talk. This includes topics such as the weather, or the current physical surroundings (e.g. the room or building they are in). The conversation then often proceeds to common experiences such as television programs, travel to other places, or eating in local restaurants. Personal finances, religion and politics are generally considered too personal, and are topics that are often avoided in casual polite conversation. Listening to American small talk could lead one to come to the erroneous conclusion that Americans are intellectually incapable of discussion topics more complex than weather, sports, or social lives.”
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Remember that going from friendliness to friendship is a gradual process and takes time.”

“Some social interactions may be superficial and you may experience disappointments in your attempts to form new friends. Learn to distinguish between friendliness and the deeper bond of friendship. Most of all, don’t get discouraged. As we say in English, “There are many fish in the sea,” and finding true friends takes time and effort.”



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P.S. 我手上還有幾張耶魯的明信片,想要收到的請推文或是寫信給我喔,動作要快 =)






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  (2010-04-18 06:46)
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