Friendly to strangers
Yesterday when I walked into the women's changing room at the gym I was met by loud female voices having what sounded like a heated discussion.
In any other country I would straight away assume that there was a minor cat fight going on, but in China, loud, female voices is part of the normality. Five minutes later they were all laughing heartily together.
Curious as I am, I wanted to know what they were talking about. They spoke too fast for me to get everything, however, I understood that they were discussing different habits at different places in China as one of the women said:
-Ah that's so funny you guys don't do that over here! You know, I am from northern China and over there we all do!
-Really?! That's so strange! Said another woman. Here in Suzhou we don't do it.
A third voice chipped in:
-Where I come from no one does it either!!
-Where are you from? The woman from the north and the woman from the Suzhou said in choirs.
-Oh, so how do you do things there?
They all started laughing and went on discussing their differences in habits. What exact habit they were talking about I didn't get, as they were at the other end of the changing room and my hearing isn't that good. But what I got from the conversation was that they obviously didn't know each other, but were just happy to chat away and tell each other about their different, home town habits. I found their discussion, as well as their happy laughs to be quite funny/cute. When I rode home later the same day, I tried to imagine the same discussion going on at the female's changing room at a gym in Sweden:
Stockholm (capital of Sweden) girl: Hey you shouldn't put your things over there, that's my space.
Girl from (what the citizens of Stockholm regard as the country side): southern Sweden's Skåne province: Oh really? Well sorry, I didn't realize? Can't we share the space?
Stockholm girl: What?! Sorry I cannot understand your dialect.
Skåne girl: Ah come on! Give me a break, of course you can.
Stockholm girl: No, I can't. You sound like you are from Denmark.
Girl from northern Sweden: What's the problem here, what are you two talking about. Isn't this a public space everyone can use?
I believe that in Sweden, even though the slightly different dialects are NOTHING compared to dialects in China, people would be too busy on being rude to each other/making sure no-one interferes with their personal space to ever be able to have a discussion with stranger about different habits in the north and south.