Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lessons Learnt

When I first arrived in the U.S. back in 1999 for studies, I learned some interesting differences between the two cultures. I wanted to list a few for somebody who is either getting ready to visit the U.S. or just for sake of learning.

Here in Pakistan, we speak and study using British English. The first one that I noticed came from using ‘Gas’ for ‘Petrol’ in Pakistan. Like, I would stop at a ‘Gas Station’ in the U.S. and ‘Petrol Station’ in Pakistan. It means the same thing. Next, I learnt to say ‘Skedule’ for ‘Schedule’ in the U.S. and ‘Shedule’ for ‘Schedule’ in Pakistan. It means the same thing but the pronunciation matters.

Next, if someone says ‘Flower’, it depends on what context they are using this word. But it could either mean ‘Flower’ or ‘Flour’, an important ingredient for nourishment. In Pakistan, we use ‘Flower’ for a plant and pronounce ‘Flour’ as ‘Floor’. We do pronounce ‘Floor’ as ‘Floor’ too. I was once asked by a good friend that if you call ‘Flour’ as ‘Floor’, then how do you differentiate if you are asking for ‘Flour’ or a ‘Floor’? Good question. 

And we do have ‘tea breaks’ in Pakistan but there are no ‘tea breaks’ in the U.S. There are only ‘coffee breaks’. They are one and the same thing but the difference is obvious. They prefer ‘coffee’ over ‘tea. So don’t be asking for any ‘tea breaks’ during a meeting. 

There is also a ‘wife beater’ in the U.S. No, it’s not what it sounds like. It is what we call a ‘vest’. This is worn under a man’s shirt in Pakistan. One of my friends in the U.S. once asked me if I was wearing a ‘wife beater’. Anyways, it is good to learn about different cultures.

On my very first morning in the university I ran into a dorm mate and he asked me ‘What’s Up’? I didn’t quite get it and asked someone later about it. He said ‘What’s Up’ is equivalent of saying ‘How is it going’ or ‘How do you do’. Don’t be saying ‘its sky’ if someone asks you ‘what’s up’. 

When someone is 'Fired' from work, it is terribly awful and a sad thing. 'Getting Fired' does not mean someone's on 'Fire' or 'Hot' or anything like that. It only means that someone has been 'laid off' from the job or 'Let Go' from work.