Studying abroad has become a typical practice for Chinese students. Many of them study in Europe and US. It will not be a secret that the system of education differs a lot from the Chinese. American and European education is preferred in China and the reasons are understandable as the systems are considered to more efficient and brining up qualified specialists on different specializations.
It will be also important to note that life in the United States also differs a lot from Chinese style of life: “Shopping, partying, and dating: what do all of these things have in common? They are typical ways that college students’ enjoy their weekends. For some however, these things may seem quite new. For Shenyang Liu, shopping malls, parties, and relationships were quite a shock when she arrived in America in mid-January”¯ (Kamody, 2008). Chinese student who chanced to study in America noticed significant difference between the American and Chinese cultures, the style of life and certainly the systems of education: “Shenyang admitted that it was very different than China. For starters, in China girls and boys are kept separate and are not allowed to socially mingle. Additionally, parents and teachers prohibit any type of romantic relationship. This is because they want the students to spend all of their time focused on their studies so they can take the college exam and eventually attend a respected university. Shenyang also found shopping malls and parties to be quite a shock. There are places to shop in Beijing, but nothing like to shopping malls found in America. Shenyang stated, “They are so big! There are so many stores with so many clothes!”¯ Also, she said there was no time for partying in China because the students spent the majority of their time focused on school. Finally, a big difference in America is the way classes are run. In China, students are not allowed to talk in class. If they have questions, they had to wait to ask until after class was over”¯ (Kamody, 2008)
Americans are considered to be the nation of immigrants and it is every national group is observing typical for them national parties and customs. It is a typical practice that people who are separated from their motherland try to keep closer to those who are the same race or speak the same language: “Chinese students usually form a cohesive group rather than integrating with other groups, making it difficult for them to learn more about American culture. The English Language Program coordinates “conversation pods”¯ ”” which partner international students with native speakers and offer more opportunities to make cross-cultural connections”¯ (Essenmacher, 2009). It is very difficult to accommodate in principally new society, with new language and social structure. Chinese students of Princeton University even created their Association. They announce the parties devoted to their customs and national traditions. Americans know very little of some specific traditions: “People in the U.S. seldom hear about China’s holidays and festivals, says education junior Chunchun Tang. She became a resident assistant in Pine Grove and recently celebrated the Mid- Autumn Festival with over 60 other Chinese residents. She also invited other friends to come learn about their culture”¯ (Essenmacher, 2009). The web page of Chinese students and scholars association at Princeton University is provided in English.
It will not be a secret that Chinese traditions and culture itself are mainly oriented on family. That is why many students feel uncomfortable and “homesick”¯: “Chinese culture is intensely familyoriented. “When big festivals are approaching, I feel homesick a lot,”¯ Zhong said. For many students, the experience here is often their first time living in another country and on their own.Ā One holiday, the Spring Festival, known by many as the Chinese New Year, is the country’s largest celebration. It usually falls at the end of January or the start of February.Ā “[It]’s like Christmas and New Year’s combined,”¯ Liu said. Most businesses in China shut down up to two weeks as families reunite for the nationwide celebration. Together, they set off fireworks, make dumplings and stay awake to see the beginning of the New Year”¯ (Essenmacher, 2009). It shows how difficult sometimes is to accommodate for the students, who lived in pretty different cultural and social surrounding.
Chinese students share not only the cultural differences but also social and educational. According to their words Americans treat the whole process and some special aspects much easier that it is in China: “Tang says that in China, everyone cares about how others look at them. “We value modesty more than ambition. Chinese people tend to be a little bit more indirect or implicit.”¯ She says they tend not to look into others’ eyes, especially those of their superiors, including professors and bosses. It’s considered offensive. Chinese courses also treat group work quite differently.
Liu says students there usually meet and work together on projects, while American classmates usually divide the task and correspond via e-mail before compiling the project in person”¯ (Essenmacher, 2009), “Ā Tang says she enjoys the attitude. “Here, professors feel like it is their fault if the lecture didn’t make sense,”¯ Tang said. “And students will ask many questions until they get it. In China, it is the opposite. If you ask questions, first, the class will think you’re dumb. Second, the teacher will think you didn’t listen very carefully or that you’re being disrespectful. That is one of the biggest changes I adjusted to. Now, I ask lots of questions”¯ (Essenmacher, 2009).
In many colleges and universities the supporting groups of Chinese students are created. They provide certain trainings to break through the stereotypes and ease the process of interpersonal communication. Actually it is done both as for American Students as well as for Chinese, both nations have quite a strange view on each other and that may cause misunderstanding. Tutors and professors traditionally support these intercultural communications helping in organization of common parties. It is essential that Americans know very little about China, but they could also learn more about the nation and culture itself, cooking, shopping and working out together. Some training classes involve bosses and employers of different nations. These help to develop intercultural communications and learn more about business practice in every country. It is essential that almost every culture has their inner ethical business code: “Liu says that cultural learning during college can prepare students for a global workplace where bosses and coworkers may come from other cultures”¯ (Essenmacher, 2009).
Celebrating cultural diversity is the main principle observed in the US colleges and universities. Chinese students are always welcome to become a part of college community and participate in the college activities. It is essential that people arriving from other countries feel uneasiness as they are unfamiliar to the culture and traditions. The groups of social support and intercultural communications are ready to help Chinese students to overcome the difficulties and get more open and closer. It will be very good advantage to share intercultural customs and traditions. At Willamette University, in Salem, there is observed such a tradition, which strongly deals with intercultural communications. On the special day (national holiday, or some traditional holiday) people of particular nations (Chinese, Russian, Japanese or somebody else) organize national party. They cook special dishes and invite their mates to celebrate their national holiday with them. Try national food, enjoy national music and dancing. Also people could see the national clothes and try to eat with traditional Chinese set. The students could pour into the unforgettable mystery of Chinese tea ceremony and learn many interesting facts about customs, traditions and sacred meanings each thing and action has.
In the end I would like to note that we live in the era of highly developed technologies and could keep on communicating to the people from different continents. I think that Chinese students give a wonderful ability to open the beauty of their mysterious country. Their social life in China differs a lot from American and it is essential that they behave differently and may not know some things that are typical for our society. It is essential that they want to keep their traditions even being far from home and we also could learn more about their customs, national holidays and many other interesting things: “There was a time when China shut the door to the outside world. And they think that China can sustain itself. Now the truth is we need to cooperate with each other. [Exchange students] will bring something fresh and new to China, and that is how we will change”¯.