By Delmar T.
I’ve been in China for a little under 5 weeks and it has all gone bye so quickly. Now I’m here reflecting on how this experience has helped me better understand Chinese culture. When brainstorming I thought of different things we’ve learned in class: One-Child Policy, US-Chinese Relations, Shanghai’s history, Buddhism, Confucianism, Women in Chinese society, Chinese calligraphy, Chinese paintings, and much more; but the truth is, as interesting as these things are, you don’t necessarily notice this daily while in China. People in China don’t discuss the One-Child Policy every day, nor do all Chinese people practice calligraphy or paint. This being said, what I really noticed is how similar China and the U.S. can be. This may be due to the western influence that can be seen on China, Shanghai in particular, which is something that I’ve noticed as well.
The U.S. and China, two countries of roughly the same size, separated by a huge Pacific Ocean, one categorized as the West, the other as the East, yet both similar in so many ways. While on campus, here in Shanghai, I’ve gotten to talk to many different people, mostly college students, and besides an obvious language difference, they’re much like those in the U.S. They like to play sports in their free-time, they go to college, or aim to, they hang-out with friends. This isn’t only true on a college-level, on a western-style campus, however; I’ve noticed these similarities while staying with a family as well. The food is different, they hang their clothes out to dry, they discourage drinking water at meals, they give you so much to eat, but these are small differences, considering we think of China as some far-away, exotic land. My parents go to work, except for on Saturdays and Sundays, my host-brother went swimming almost daily with his friend, they eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they do laundry, take showers, they laugh, they watch TV, and in most things they do, we’re the same.
Now, Shanghai is a westernized city, almost definitely the most western in China, but I think that a considerable amount of China is like this. Shanghai in itself has a population of over 23 million people, which is more than the population of the top 8 most populated cities in the U.S. combined. This isn’t even to mention that Shanghai is just one of many large cities in China that have a notable western influence. All throughout my stay in China I’ve seen Chinese people wearing shirts with English words on them, college students playing soccer with Western-brand cleats, American music coming from speakers. The U.S. and China, are miles apart, with amazingly different populations, and histories, but are still just nations, with people that are very much the same. I’ve felt comfortable in China, and although there are differences, it’s not hard to adjust. Chinese culture is different, but Western culture is too, and in this way, they’re so similar.