October 14, 2009

Please Remove Your Shoes Before Entering

This semester we finally purchased a shoe rack to hold all our shoes. And why did we need the shoe rack? One, we just had too many shoes piled up by the door that it became a hazard to walk into our bedroom. And two, it's what's done in China. Everyone when entering a home, removes their shoes before walking into the house. As proper hosts, we hand out shoe covers or sandals for our guests to wear inside our apartment.

Right now, we don't have enough sandals for all our guests, so we break this cultural rule and allow students to enter our apartment with their shoes on. Students always give a funny look like they are saying, "Are you serious? You want me to walk on your clean floor with my dirty shoes from outside."

To explain the differences of cultural rules, I suppose Americans view the floor as dirty, so we leave our shoes on. Chinese view the floor as clean and want it to remain that way, so they take their shoes off. If you've ever walked around for a day through the street of Harbin, you'd want to take your shoes off too. It reminds me of a American farmer or rancher coming home from a long day's work with boots covered in mud or manure. Please remove your shoes before entering or at least get the water hose and spray them off (and then leave them outside)!

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