Coming to you with a deep one. That’s right, this one’s really, really deep, and I’m not sure if it’s an epiphany or just plain old down-and-dirty culture shock.
So I have the supreme honor of working with overseas students for whom English is a second language. When I was speaking with one very bright, very ambitious student, I asked if she was going to bed after we finished our lesson. After all, she was only in middle school and it was 10:00pm her time. Sounds like bedtime to me.
Do you know what that sweet girl told me? She told me she never goes to bed that early! She goes to school six to eight hours each day, has three private tutors, takes an English class with me for an hour, then studies until 1:00am!
How’s that for culture shock?
As I listened to her describe her daily regimen, I felt a hot flush of guilt and shame–the typical emotions I feel when I realize I’ve been a lazy bum. You see, myself and all the people I have ever known have made it our business to get as much sleep as we possibly can. No matter what time we go to bed, whatever sleep we get is never enough. Truth is, we’re the people the “snooze” button was invented for; we’re the people who dream of sleep so we can sleep and dream.
Interesting, isn’t it, that some people (like my student and the people of her culture) stay awake as long as they possibly can so they can learn as much as their agile brains will hold. And some people, like myself and the people of my culture, get as much sleep as we possibly can.
Now, i just know someone’s going to write me and ask if I’m saying that Americans sleep too much and think too little. NO, I’m not saying that. I’m just saying that, until I met this student and learned about her culture, I had never met people who stayed awake as long as they
could so they could squeeze in all the learning they could handle.
It was (and is) a culture shock, and one I hope to learn from (even now–at my age!) and pattern myself after.
Best wishes and happy writing,