Every year, tens of thousands of Chinese fly to the USA for their studies away from their parents.
I am one of them. This week, I am lucky to have two Chinese students to talk about how they adapted to the different culture in America.
This is Jiawei Lu’s fourth year in America. As a member of Society For Sino-American Studies, he says: “I believe Chinese culture is reticent. When we were young, we were told that modesty was a virtue and silence meant respect. Therefore, when we came here America to study, we found the classroom is totally different. We do not look so confident as American students and are not so active in raising questions or answering them.”
Weijia thinks it is not bad to follow the culture of the new environment. “Chinese students have two circles to make friends with. The first is the circle of Chinese students. The second is that of international students. If it is hard for you to make friends with American students, it is not because your English is not good enough, but because you cannot frankly accept their friendship. This may work the same way to American students. This is where the sense of distance comes.”
When Bidan Yang and Chenyan firstly arrived in America, they felt the cultural shock. Chenyan says: “The best takeaway here is I understand what I really need. When I was young, I followed my parents’ guidance and later found I was not happy with that.” “I first studied Accountancy,” says she, “but I was not much into it and was bothered. Later I told my American dorm mate and she told me to follow my heart. She said that only when I followed what I like could I keep enthusiasm. Later I switched to Theater major. This is a turning point in my life.”
“I first studied Accounting,” says she, “but I was not much into it and was bothered. Later I told my American roommate and she told me to follow my heart. She said that only when I followed what I like could I keep enthusiasm. Later I switched to Theater major. This is a turning point in my life.”
Cross-cultural exchange can help us grow in short time. Bidan says: “Chinese people stress the idea of ‘Seeing is believing’. When we think outside the box, we learn to think critically and about the other facets of a thing. When we do so, we are no longer following suit or being extreme in our views.”
Thinking outside the box, staying in a different environment to a new environment and listening to others views that we may agree or disagree. These experiences help us see our true heart.