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Today's word on journalism

January 13, 2009

Breakneck:

"I get the feeling that the 24-hour news networks are like the bus in the movie 'Speed.' If they stop talking for a second, they think they'll blow up."

--Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, 2008 (Thanks to alert WORDster Ross Martin)

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Culture shock affects USU students in U.S.-China exchange

By Michon Winget

December 12, 2008 | Foreign exchange students to and from China have culture experiences most students in the United States are not familiar with.

USU student, Julie Beeston, studied abroad in Wuhu, China last year and experienced culture shock upon her return to the United States. Beeston said that the most difficult thing for her to readjust to in the US was the space. She was accustomed to living in a small apartment in China with more people than in her home in Colorado. She said certain rooms in her house overwhelmed her like the game room or lounge area. In China the only rooms they had or stayed in were the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.

Bathrooms in China are also much different than those in the United States. According to Beeston the bathrooms do not have a bathtub to shower in but the entire bathroom becomes the shower. There is a shower head and a drain. Some Chinese exchange students had difficulty showering in the US because the bathrooms are so different. They didn't understand that a shower curtain was necessary to keep water in the desired area and flooded the bathroom. In the north end of China they also have public showers. The public shower is a social event where people go meet other people.

Beeston has made friends with many of the Chinese students because she has more experience with Chinese culture. One occasion she met a Chinese man at the Howl. In China their expectations of a party are very different than in the United States. He was surprised that a party meant dancing but there is no food or alcohol. Another time on the bus a couple of Chinese men said they thought American food all tasted similar. It was confusing to them how we thought for a Thanksgiving feast we would eat turkey. In China their idea of a feast or even a meal is many selections of food as to where in the US just an entrée and side dish is normal.

Bella Hou and Tina Qi are two of the Chinese foreign exchange students attending USU. Hou said the biggest difference she realized between the United States and Beijing is how big and beautiful the schools are. She also noticed there were a lot of trees. Hou, Qi and their other Chinese roommates are very hospitable and offer tea or hot water when guests come over. Chinese believe that liquids should be heated to body temperature. They heat up water because it's better for your body.

The Chinese government is very different than the United States government. Beeston said that while she was in China the government regulates internet sites. "They blocked off youtube," said Beeston. The government has become a lot more relaxed in more recent China with employment. Now students work hard to get into good schools to get good jobs. Once a citizen is in their occupation they are in it for life. You will receive the same salary for your job whether you go every day or if you miss frequently. The jobs don't have competition so it's difficult sometimes for citizens to be motivated to put their all into their job. Often, companies will have their employees do tai chi at work. Beeston said usually the worse the occupation the more often you have to do tai chi.

China doesn't have many foreigners so when they see one it's a big deal. Being a foreigner in China is a lot different than being a foreigner in the United States. When Beeston was in China she had people stare at her constantly. She made the news a few times just for doing normal things. The Chinese people wouldn't make an effort to turn away when they were caught staring at her. Many came up to her and said she was the first foreigner they have ever seen. One time she was in a super market and they had a ping pong game to win a prize. They gave her twice as many chances to win but even when she lost they still gave her a prize.

In the United States most students understand basic culture differences between China and the US like food and government but they don't take the time to understand more. Most students don't learn as much about the Chinese history and culture compared to European. "China has a wonderful and long history," said Hou.

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