I'm not really an expert on anything (I'm 25 for starters) but I have lived and worked in both rural South Korea and Russia. I consider both places to be pretty cultural different from the US. And have had a few very difficult relations with women from both countries.
One of the most difficult (if not impossible) things to do is to see the difference between an 'individual' and their 'culture'. Actually culture is really not the right word, 'ethnicity and upbringing expressed as a person as a member of the group' is more what I mean.
I remember I had a great deal of difficulty with a Russian ex-girlfriend. I am fluent in Russian, and have a great deal of experience with all things Russian. But there are also 'unwritten' aspects of a culture that are NEVER printed in books.
I maybe rambling a bit, but I was thinking where Dr. Greg said
While it may have different names in different cultures, schizophrenia is schizophrenia whether you were born in China or the United States. If a patient falsely believes that the government is trying to kill him, that is a delusion whether the color of one's passport is red or blue.
But it also must be remembered if I, as an American, say "the CIA is trying to kill me!" I'd be pretty, for lack of a better word, crazy. But is it as abnormal for a Russian man of 90 to believe the government was trying to kill him? After all the man has seen 50 years of a government trying to kill people, perhaps including close relatives. He could even say, well Uncle Fedka was shot in '52, and Borris was sent to SIberia in '49 so why not me?
Anyway what I'm trying to say is that in Russia, what I thought was the behavior of all Russian women was in fact the behavior of a Russian woman who had very bad (abusive, physically and mentally, perhaps sexually as well) relations with her father. When I described her behavior as "normal Russian behavior," which it seemed to be, to a male Russian friend, he said "there was nothing normal about it!" and began asking about her family relations. He, being Russian, was far more able to see ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ than was I.
In Korea it was common for the school board and principals to explain any act, even rather bizarre rude ones, as Korean culture. A great example was when they forbid a teacher to attend a funeral of a close relative, even though to miss the funeral of a male relative would be a great sin in their Confucian culture. The foreign teacher was told “he didn’t understand Korean culture,” which was their way of saving face for their outrageous behavior. Many Asians, like all people, are able to lie about ‘their culture’ if it gets the job done, or is a convenient way to intimidate an already confused foreigner.
As the western culture has become the ‘dominant’ super-culture worldwide, (why do Asian men wear business suits and not hanboks or kimonos abroad?) claiming ‘ignorance’ of western ways is more of an excuse than anything else. Obviously the niceties of eastern etiquette should be observed whenever possible to smooth things over. But in my experience the belief that there is a culturally explanation for every ‘unpleasant’ behavior is a gross exaggeration and one that tends to leave the lost laowai dazed and confused.
Lastly as I mentioned my ‘sole’ qualifications are in the fields of dating/living with Russian women and working in Korea, so excuse the lack of clarity I’ve brought to the discussion.