The freedom of expression

I have been to Canada for four and a half years. I have overcome a lot of cultural shocks during such a long period. One of the most distinct culture shocks is that Asians tend to hide their feelings whereas westerners like expression.

For example, westerners are very talkative but Asians are relatively quiet. The reason why Asian people are less talkative is that we are taught that talking too much is excessive or even problematic, like a famous Chinese saying goes "troubles come from mouth." When I was a kid, if I talked too much, my parents would stop me and ask me to do something else instead. Because they believe that talking too much means you have nothing else to do. When I came abroad, I found that talking is a way to express ourselves and is part of our personality. Westerners view a talkative person as outgoing and easygoing. When you have an interview, you'd better let your employers feel that you can express yourself freely, since communication skills are always important in the west.

In Chinese, we don't really have a proper translation of "presentation". Presentation means not only talking in front of people but also acting. You need to use body language and facial expressions as well. In China, students rarely have chance to do a presentation in class. Teachers always play a main role in class and students are always sitting there and taking notes. If you ask questions while teachers are talking, you are viewed to be a "bad" student, since you didn't pay attention to teachers' words. However, in Canada, teachers are always asking "do you have any questions?" If they don't do so, students may complain. Teachers regard a student with a lot of questions as a good student, even though the teacher is asked to repeat what they just said.

Westerners have more ways to express themselves than Asian people do. They never inhibit their feelings and emotions in any occasions. Individuals always have chance to express themselves in front of people everywhere, such as in the classroom, street, workplaces, parties, parks, etc. That's why they have colorful and creative holidays such as "Halloween", "St. Patrick's Day" and so forth to let people have chance to party and wear costumes. However, Asians usually hide their feelings in front of others. That also comes from our educational systems. When I was in elementary school, whenever the teacher announced that we don't need to go to school in the following days because of a whatever reason, students would cheer and shout to express their happiness. The teacher would definitely stop us and threaten to give us a lot of assignments if we continue doing that. Day after day, people forget how to express themselves and consider westerners to be naive and ignorant.

My law teacher told us that people have the freedom of expression. That's the first and the most important class I have ever had so far.

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