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Health

Culture Shock in the Bathroom

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Unlike most of my South Asian friends, I arrived in the U.S. prepared for what might be every Asian’s greatest fear: the lack of bidet showers. I was fortunate enough to have known what to expect when it came to the sudden change in hygiene habits, and I was also stubborn enough to do whatever it took to ensure I feel clean at all times. 

To the people who have never heard of it, a bidet shower is a handheld nozzle placed next to a commode, that delivers a stream of moderate-pressure water to clean your genitals and well, your behind, after using the toilet. This tool is essential in Sri Lankan and other Asian homes, and many of us from the continent have grown up used to always having a clean rear end. It is, without doubt, that the biggest culture shock we experience after landing in the U.S. is the inability to maintain the level of hygiene we have been used to for the entirety of our lives. 

I think I speak for every Asian when I say that the switch from using sterile water for cleaning your posterior to using only dry toilet paper is beyond mortifying. While the change is reluctantly accepted by most, it is by far the most grotesque feeling one will have to endure for most of their college life. In fact, one thing that excites most students about flying back for vacation is the presence of a bidet in their homes and, therefore, the promise of good hygiene and the mentality of cleanliness. I’ve witnessed many peers going as far as to include a photograph of the shiny silver tool on their Instagram stories, captioned “Biggest miss:(”. 

The States is, without a doubt, a country that boasts of massive opportunities in terms of luxury items. The same can be said about the United Kingdom and most of Europe. So it is quite surprising that the first world lacks what the third world thrives on when it comes to having a cleaner rear end. Unfortunately, it is not within the power of an international student to start a campaign that would ultimately lead to their colleges installing bidets in every single one of their communal and public restrooms. There are, however, a few things that can be done to stop your mind from bugging you about not using water when you use the bathroom. And don’t worry, it doesn’t include maintaining a strict bathroom schedule that artfully aligns with shower time (only Sheldon Cooper is capable of that). 

Installing a bidet that requires no extra plumbing in your bathroom.   

  • I recently came across an Instagram ad by HelloTushy. This featured a high-end bidet that can be installed in your toilet without disrupting the plumbing. It requires no handyman and can be installed on the side of your seat easily. The Tushy 3.0 is priced at $119.00.  

Purchasing a handheld bidet from Amazon. 

  • For those of you who are as broke as I am, or are afraid of making drastic changes to your communal bathroom, there is an option called a portable handheld bidet. There are many varieties available, but I recommend checking the ratings on these before making a purchase. One pro of a portable bidet is that you can carry it around with you in your bag, ensuring good hygiene wherever you go. However, a con of it is that most of them release water at very low pressure, making the purchase nearly futile. 

It’s still better than not using any water at all though, so if you’re feeling icky about toilet paper, you might want to look into these. Hopefully, in the near future, the first world will begin their installment of bidets in every public bathroom. Until then, happy washing! 

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Hi! I’m a Sri Lankan student studying in the US; I love dogs, biology, spicy food, debate, bullet journaling and the color purple. You might find me obsessing over Sherlock and The Big Bang Theory, or drawing characters from Disney’s Tangled :)
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