Drawn to Western’s culture, Chinese Students Look beyond the Academic Pursuit Overseas

Increasing number for mainland Chinese went abroad for higher education also in anticipation of enrichment of one’s perspectives integrating both eastern and western values and culture and majority of them ended up in disappointment and despair except for the few who either gotten engaged with local spouses with in-depth interracial involvement or those who made an extraordinary effort reaching out outside of their comfort zones. Unlike most of the Indian new comers in addition to being fluent in English and of whom had been ruled by 190 years under British colonial era and many did rather well embracing both the western and Indian culture dominating now in many silicon corporations, new generation Chinese students with their thousands years strong cultural imprints had an unprecedented skillets and social resources to do better as compared to their earlier batch of Chinese laborer migrants who cluster and self-excluded themselves from the mainstream western community.

America gave the world the notion of the melting pot – an alchemical cooking device wherein diverse ethnic and religious groups voluntarily mix together, producing a new, American identity. And while critics may argue that the melting pot is a national myth, it has tenaciously informed the America’s collective imagination.— Ivan Krastev

Although grappling with new environment and challenging academic demands, average Chinese students in their late teen or early twenty lacks the social interacting know how and the necessary maturity to make an effort to experience and integrate well with the western cultures even given abundant opportunities physically. Like flock of a feature flock together, some still ended up dwelling with the same Chinese community and form ever stronger bonds within each other in the foreign lands. Finding a way to have the best of both worlds first need to establish and accept some fundamental understandings and constraints;

Mastery of language as an advantage: Strong commanding of the English as the 2nd language open doors of opportunities but largely remain as an effective communicating tool; rules of engagement with socially acceptable verbal interaction protocol are barely scrapping the surface of meaningful cultural and values exchanges with their western counterparts and has become the most ambivalent as many misunderstood being bilingual is all what its take for full cultural immersion. The fact is operating on 2nd language usually lacks of the native emotional and conscious association one expects with the mother tongue. Physiological responses such as biological fluctuation (heart beats, blood pressure and etc) only corresponding well with the main native language for primary contemplation and deduction process as suggested by Dr. Antonio Damasio whose hypothesis provides a systems-level neuroanatomical and cognitive framework for decision making and the influence on it by emotion. The key idea of this hypothesis is that decision making is a process that is influenced by marker signals that arise in bio-regulatory processes, including those that express themselves in emotions and feelings.

❝If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.❞ ‒Nelson Mandela

Complimentary of cultural and values integration: Chinese over time has to contend with a raising trends that seeks to replace indigenous identify with a western one defined by the dominance of western history and modernization and the prolong and extensive soft influences from western drama and movies in China had given a misinterpretation of their cultures painting inaccurate impressions. Average individual simply had limited capacity in embracing the conflicts of different cultures and would be left stranded if a strong and dominant self-identify is not established firmly as one would be confused exposing to different culture in the formative years. The well-educated Chinese students nowadays had the opportunities to access literature to better comprehend western cultures even without leaving their home soils and having a realistic perspective with practical expectations would help one to better appreciate and integrate well with their foreign peers. The new American or European is no more simply defined as White Anglo-Saxon protestants but multiple ethnicity with diverse origins hold together by the common core belief such as individualism, equality, science, progress, work and leisure. 

The only true happiness lies in knowing who you are… and making peace with it—Lairell K. Hamilton

Leveraging on Bicultural modesty: In fact, the answer to meaningful bicultural is modesty. Combining both customs and cultures not unlike complimenting traditional Chinese medicine with western medical procedures, avoiding direct counteracting or harmful combination of herbs, drugs, practices and leveraging with a unique treatment embracing both methodology, positioning and exploring own preferences benefiting from their differences. Modesty is an epistemology directly opposed to the conflicting cultural effects. It means having the courage to understand that the world is too complicated to fit into only one cultural and value belief system. It means understanding there are no easy answers that can explain the big cultural difference questions or the existential problems. Progress is not made by 100% westernization and discards thousand years of Chinese values or blocking out all western elements; it’s made by finding balance between competing truths — between conservative and openness, direct and indirect, aggressive and submissive, inclusion or exclusion.

“Next to love, balance is the most important thing.” – John Wooden

 In summary. Reflecting many growing concern over their younger peer’s inability to have the right approach to take advantage of their oversea ventures for a full and meaningful in depth cultural exposures and instead shutting their doors out as stung by perceive prejudice and criticism and being overwhelmed by the fear of the uncertainties in the brand new environment, one must understand the reality and accepting the facts that there’s always going to be conflicts of both cultural values, just endless searching and adjustment one may face conflict assimilating into both cultures or finding a balance between both and having a bicultural identify  also have positive effects on the individual, in terms of the additional knowledge they acquire from belonging to more than one culture. Strong commanding of the English is an advantage but not prerequisite for an effective cultural exchanges and exposures, the key is modesty of being unassuming and making an efforts to be influenced by the biological and social norms of shared behaviors and customs learning from the institutions and most importantly the mainstream locals.

We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality. —-Lucius Annaeus Seneca


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