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
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.