Tuesday, December 30, 2008

cultural shock

hm. i don't even know where to begin.

everything was different. to such an extent that for the first week i just was taking it all in, trying to analize the differences and decide whether i like it or not. for the first week i wouldn't dare answering "so do you like it in here?" or "so what's America like?" questions.

now i can. it's a whole different world and it seems like i like both - the one i left behind and this new one.

ok so as you know people don't walk here in the streets. they only drive, even if it's a store across the street or a store on your side of the street just some 200 metres away from you. however people sometimes go running in the streets. in shorts. yes it's cold and it's winter.

it's approximately what we all were being told about Americans and thinking those things were unbelievable and exhagerated. strangers will smile at you and say "hello". they are kind of simpler, will expect you to tell the truth. oh and with humor, when they tell a joke they will tell it so that you know when to laugh. they don't really have that dark or sarcastic humor. when they are happy they can start jumping and shouting "woo-hoo!!!". if it's crowded and people will end up bumping into you, you will get "oh excuse me!" with a smile. every time it happens.

also practically everybody keeps animals at home. animals - not animal. Michael's parents keep 2 cats and a dog. Steve and Nicole were keeping 2 cats (who are huge!! you can't lift both at once!) and Nicole got an absolutelly adorable and absolutelly black kitten.

stores and goods

common store is the one where you can buy everything. from cosmetics to groceries. you just take a cart and go to different parts of the store. you don't interact with sales people unless you can't find something in particular. basically it's very much like "yeritsyan and sons" supermarket (together with a dollar store), and goods at all departments will be from some brands - like the sosmetics will be from l'oreal, maybelline, max factor, etc. it's annoying to some extent. in Armenia if i wanted to get something definite but didn't know the name or the brand i could just go to a small shop and say "do you have mousse of strong fixation with curling effect?" they would suggest several brands and it would be it. here i have to find this mousse among all other hair products and then i have to find the one i'm looking for.

so shopping that would take 10 minutes in Yerevan takes hours here. also the way products are placed, you will end up getting 10 times more items than you planned and in fact needed.

also the choice of things is huge. it works the opposite way though. people like about 90% and can't choose what to buy, so they end up just grabbing the first item closest to them and running away not to buy everything.

same with foods and drinks. i said "we need some butter" and to the question "what butter?" i said "like.. butter.. normal butter". good luck with it. they had like 40 kinds of it! salted unsalted, dietic, etc.

what was one of the first things i noticed was that there isn't just one set of street lights.. there are like 4 sets hanging 1.5 m apart from each other on one line. why??? because!!! so that it's convinient to see the lights from any point.

at bars, people will ask you to show id card to see if you are 21+ or you won't get alcohol.


i wanted to say much more but i guess i'm kind of late with this post and the first real strong shock is behind. and now i'm too excited to get to the next topic and tell about some of my adventures :D

oh and yeah the missing luggage piece was found the same day - they called Steve, dropped it at his place, then we picked it up :)


Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I've heard about the way that they place products so you will buy 10 times more than you expected. In fact this is serious profession: how to force peaple to buy what they don't need. And I am always getting angry when I see in Armenia's supermarkets how they place products. They place beer near juices, and "3 Korochki" near milk :D

Irina said...

hahaha Alex, here salespeople would be terrified by armenian supermarkets! here it's really a huge "science". there are so many ways to make people buy stuff. for example the expensive goods will be on the shelf which is at the level of your eyes. cheaper goods of same quality go on the highest or lowest shelf - difficult to reach. they will also have "specialists" who will be the same salespeople advising you to buy their stuff. for example you go to buy some medicine and there is somebody in a white robe who is a specialist, telling you there is this new cool medicine and you must be retarded if you don't use it since everybody uses it. so... people will buy it because a) specialist told them - and he knows better. and b) they don't want to be worse or stupider than others. the point is... being called a specialist and wearing a white robe doesn't mean at all that you are a doctor or have anything to do with doctors. and these are just small examples. it's kind of sad though - the way the people are manipulated so easily.

watcher.am said...

Hey, I think that's even better. You always have things to discover there. First time you will by a the first butter, that is put on the queue. The second time the next butter and so on. This is really interesting. This way, you can discover many things during all your life. That's so interesting !!
I myself am discovering many-many things, which I didn't even know before :)

And .. mm.. now I know, that I should not ask tourists, who visit Armenia, what they think about this place (at least for the first days).