Move

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Written by: Anonymous 2

As I sit down with my laptop in front of me, I think of things I want to write about.  Spoken or unspoken societal expectations and norms come into my mind.  This piece is solely based on my opinion and experiences. I moved to the US in my very early 20s from Nepal.  Moving to a new country came with many differences; different language, different people, different culture, and much more.  It took me some time to adapt to things around me.  Along the way, I have noticed some major differences between these two countries.  

Some things that come to my mind are the spoken and unspoken societal expectations from a person.  Expectations like not making an eye contact while talking with the elders, having a soft voice, and not marrying someone from a different caste.

1. It’s an expectation in Nepal to never keep constant eye contact while talking.  It’s not that you cannot look people in their eyes.  It’s considered impolite if you keep doing that without a break.  I was told that having eye contact with elders is considered rude.  When I came to US, it was the opposite. It was rude if you did not look into people’s eyes while talking because the thought was that you were not exactly sure of what you were saying.  It took me some time to get used to the idea of people looking at my eyes while talking and vice versa.

2. Having a lower, softer voice was important, especially for girls in Nepal.  No matter what the age of the person you talked to was, you always have your voice down.  Parents probably worried that society might think that their girls were not raised properly and not well behaved.  In the US, I learned that it’s good to speak up, and it’s not considered ill-mannered as long as you don’t talk like you are yelling.  This was another thing that took some practice after moving to US.  I used to talk with my voice really low, to a point that I had to repeat my sentences because people couldn’t hear what I was saying.

3. Marrying someone within your caste was a norm. When there was news about some girl eloping with a guy from different caste, you hear all the gossips spreading around.  Because of these rumors and conversations, you are expected to not be like that girl who married outside of her caste.  Where I am now, people date and take time to get to know each other before they decide to get married, which was a new thing for me.  I learned that there was no caste system here, they could choose their own partners, and that it was not a bad thing.

I have grown up a lot with my age and experiences and I  have made quite the life for myself. Being raised in one country, moving to another, and experiencing different sides of the world, I look back and think about how things are different. The people, culture, perception on things, and situations.  I am old enough to measure things relatively well and have my own opinions.  I can now look into people’s eyes without feeling uncomfortable while having a conversation, I speak up, and I can see that it’s ok to get married with someone outside your caste.

*Discuss your experiences with expectations and societal norms.

2 thoughts on “Move

  1. Rhijuta D says:

    I enjoyed reading this. I didn’t know about the not keeping an eye contact. People in Nepal must have found this awkward when I kept an eye contact specially on work-related meetings. I knew about the lower softer voice thing as my grandparents disliked me talking and discussing things. I also didn’t realise until the end that (some) people notice if you don’t use your right hand when you give or receive things.

    I also find that there’s that expectation that when you enter someone’s house (mostly relatives), because you’re a woman, you’re expected to help in the kitchen even if it is just to carry something or go in and talk to them in the kitchen. This I had to consciously think about when I was at someone’s house. Does this happen in other people’s household too?

  2. Richa P says:

    I didn’t know about the eye contact thing but now that I think about it, it makes sense. I have also always had a soft voice. Someone recently asked me why I talked so quietly and I tried to give them an answer.. I don’t think they understood. Anyway, I am working on being more audible.

    Luckily, when I was growing up, my parents didn’t expect me to do things when guests came. You know how sometimes daughters are supposed to make tea for the guests? I really never had to do that.. it could also be because at that time, I wasn’t very good at it. I have now noticed that I try to help in the kitchen no matter where I am going (even non Nepali households). It’s just a habit.. something I don’t think about but do.

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