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Learning Cultural Norms


On Monday, I went to my Daoism class and discussed our fieldtrip the week before. After class was out, I stayed after and asked my professor to tell me about Confucianism from the Chinese perspective. He was thrilled. He didn’t say anything but instead lead me out of the campus, onto a bus and to a different folk temple fifteen minutes away. The temple was small, dark and hard to find. At the door was a statue of Confucius and signs lining the wall with philosophical quotes from the master. “This is Confucianism,” he said, and he went on to explain Confucius goal of bettering the chaotic society of his time by modeling the Five Relationships that act as a microcosm for the main societal institutions; family, government, and so on. When we returned, he gave me some interesting reading material and I read it that night. What a wonderful teacher!
On Wednesday, I received a text message from my good Indian friend, Aasim, telling me that he was going home to visit his family the following day and that he wouldn’t be back until after I had returned home. I couldn’t believe it; I ran to his room, spent the day with him, took him out to a fancy dinner at a great Turkish restaurant and said goodbye. We promised to meet up in the future and he invited me to come to his home in southern India! My time in China will not be the same without him.
The following day, I attended my weekly history class. We discussed the events of the Cultural Revolution and my professor gave a very seemingly western account of what happened. We all expected a sugar-coated story depicting the events as being less severe than they actually were. Luckily, that was not the case. Half way through class, our professor pulls out a cigarette and lights up right in class! I was laughing so hard I couldn’t control myself. One would never see that in the U.S. He then offered us a smoke and kept puffing away! Talk about cultural differences.
On Saturday, I went to the Global Center, a massive five-story shopping mall, with a few friends. When I say that this place had everything, I am not exaggerating. It had an entire I-Max movie theater with ten different films at any given time, an entire water park, beach, surfing area, spas, clothing stores, restaurants, several grocery stores, and so on! One could easily spend a week there and not get to every place! We browsed around for a bit but I felt a bit overwhelmed by all of the chaos and decided to leave and drink some tea in a local shop near my campus. I spoke about working in China with the girl behind the counter and decided I might return after graduation. As a native English speaker, I can make good money and live cheaply while furthering my Chinese culture and language studies. It sounds perfect!

Posted by exg07161 08:29 Archived in China

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