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7 Things Only US Students Who Study In China Would Understand

7 Things Only US Students Who Study In China Would Understand

Moving from the US to China to gain higher education is a very serious step. You enter a completely different culture with its own rules, laws, food, art and view on things. You get to know totally different people who see things not as you do.

Nevertheless, thousands of US students are brave enough to take this huge step and change their usual way of life for this new adventure. If you’ve already experienced this kind of adventure, you can totally relate to the following things. If you are only thinking of taking up this challenge, see what things you should be prepared for.

Here are the things US students in China usually go through.

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They suffer a lot at the beginning if they don’t know Chinese

US students who go to China and plan to study the language there, feel like they have come to another planet at first. Chinese and English are such different languages that you probably won’t hear any familiar word besides, may be, Pepsi, iPhone and other universal brand names. The weird thing is that in China, not so many people speak English comparing to European countries, for instance. So, if you only plan to go study there, take some basic classes first.

They get a lot of stares and pointing

US Students studying in China get a lot of attention. If you are tall or chubby, you will probably get lots of stares and pointing. They especially love blond people with blue eyes. If you are one, you will feel like a star in China. Be prepared for Chinese people wanting to take a picture with you, it is absolutely normal. With all that, don’t think that they consider you a freak or something. On the contrary, they admire you and may even make way for you on the streets. In big cities with lots of tourists, Chinese people react more calmly to other nationalities now. But if you go to some provinces or villages, get ready to feel like a superstar.

They become very creative in their studying

When US students study in Chinese universities, they have to become creative. Imagine if you had to write a thousand words essay in Chinese on the topic of, let’s say, Chinese literature. Sounds quite intimidating, doesn’t it? Well, but they actually manage to do it and to get good grades. So, creativity is something that you will definitely acquire as a student in China.

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They feel all the kindness and friendliness of Chinese people

If you ask for help, you will most likely get it. Even if you don’t know much Chinese and try to explain your problem in English or even with the help of gestures – they will do what they can to help. The most important thing is to be friendly. Sometimes a smile can do more than a thousand words. The most important thing, though, is to avoid familiarity and some gestures that are common for us but can be offensive for Chinese people. Remember that they do not like to be touched. Patting somebody’s back, hugging and other forms of physical contact will probably not be appreciated at all.

They get overwhelmed with the loudness

Chinese people speak loudly! When you first witness their conversations, you may think they are fighting. Moreover, they spit and burp a lot. That is another thing that shocks many foreigners. However, you get used to loudness quite a lot. In a month you won’t even notice it.

They eat things they didn’t even know were edible

The Chinese food you eat in restaurants in the US has nothing to do with what you’ll see (and maybe eat) in China. First of all, food is spicy, very spicy! You will eat and cry at first. Second of all, food in many restaurants and cafes looks terrible. Well, it looks normal for Chinese people, but for us it looks like some odd slush. And finally, you will see so many things that seem absolutely inedible: heads of ducks or rodents, fried scorpions, cockroaches, bugs, grubs, turtles, snails, etc.

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They have to go through seven hells before they find out how to access Facebook or Youtube

Censorship on the Internet in China is very strict. There is no Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and some other resources and social networks for you, my friend. So, students who enjoy online social life, feel quite disappointed trying to access their Facebook page in China for the first time. Many different websites and Google services may also be forbidden there, so be ready.

Don’t get desperate, though. There are some ways to go around the system. Foreign students have come up with several ways of accessing forbidden sites. One of the most popular one is setting up VPN. So, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Hopefully, this list didn’t scare you off. China actually is a very beautiful country and Chinese people are very nice. You just have to go through the cultural shock and you will fall in love with this country forever.

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Featured photo credit: Mitch Altman via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention until the next thing comes up.

This is, of course, a recipe for madness. The feeling of loss of control over what you do and when is enough to drive you over the edge, and if that doesn’t get you, the wreckage of unfinished projects you leave in your wake will surely catch up with you.

Having an inbox and processing it in a systematic way can help you gain back some of that control. But once you’ve processed out your inbox and listed all the tasks you need to get cracking on, you still have to figure out what to do the very next instant. On which of those tasks will your time best be spent, and which ones can wait?

When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. (And following the path of least resistance, as the late, great Utah Phillips reminded us, is what makes the river crooked!) That is, we’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest ones – leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.

This is why setting priorities is so important.

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3 Effective Approaches to Set Priorities

There are three basic approaches to setting priorities, each of which probably suits different kinds of personalities. The first is for procrastinators, people who put off unpleasant tasks. The second is for people who thrive on accomplishment, who need a stream of small victories to get through the day. And the third is for the more analytic types, who need to know that they’re working on the objectively most important thing possible at this moment. In order, then, they are:

1. Eat a Frog

There’s an old saying to the effect that if you wake up in the morning and eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you that day has already passed. In other words, the day can only get better!

Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.

When you’ve got a fat old frog on your plate, you’ve really got to knuckle down. Another old saying says that when you’ve got to eat a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it! It pays to keep this in mind if you’re the kind of person that procrastinates by “planning your attack” and “psyching yourself up” for half the day. Just open wide and chomp that frog, buddy! Otherwise, you’ll almost surely talk yourself out of doing anything at all.

2. Move Big Rocks

Maybe you’re not a procrastinator so much as a fiddler, someone who fills her or his time fussing over little tasks. You’re busy busy busy all the time, but somehow, nothing important ever seems to get done.

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You need the wisdom of the pickle jar. Take a pickle jar and fill it up with sand. Now try to put a handful of rocks in there. You can’t, right? There’s no room.

If it’s important to put the rocks in the jar, you’ve got to put the rocks in first. Fill the jar with rocks, now try pouring in some pebbles. See how they roll in and fill up the available space? Now throw in a couple handfuls of gravel. Again, it slides right into the cracks. Finally, pour in some sand.

For the metaphorically impaired, the pickle jar is all the time you have in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little busy-work tasks, leaving no room for the big stuff, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.

To put it into practice, sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. Don’t try to fit everything you need, or think you need, to do, just the three most important ones.

In the morning, take out your list and attack the first “Big Rock”. Work on it until it’s done or you can’t make any further progress. Then move on to the second, and then the third. Once you’ve finished them all, you can start in with the little stuff, knowing you’ve made good progress on all the big stuff. And if you don’t get to the little stuff? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished three big things. At the end of the day, nobody’s ever wished they’d spent more time arranging their pencil drawer instead of writing their novel, or printing mailing labels instead of landing a big client.

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3. Covey Quadrants

If you just can’t relax unless you absolutely know you’re working on the most important thing you could be working on at every instant, Stephen Covey’s quadrant system as written in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change might be for you.

Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:

  1. Important and Urgent
  2. Important and Not Urgent
  3. Not Important but Urgent
  4. Not Important and Not Urgent

    The quadrant III and IV stuff is where we get bogged down in the trivial: phone calls, interruptions, meetings (QIII) and busy work, shooting the breeze, and other time wasters (QIV). Although some of this stuff might have some social value, if it interferes with your ability to do the things that are important to you, they need to go.

    Quadrant I and II are the tasks that are important to us. QI are crises, impending deadlines, and other work that needs to be done right now or terrible things will happen. If you’re really on top of your time management, you can minimize Q1 tasks, but you can never eliminate them – a car accident, someone getting ill, a natural disaster, these things all demand immediate action and are rarely planned for.

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    You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job. This is the stuff that the QIII and QIV stuff takes time away from, so after you’ve plotted out your tasks on the Covey quadrant grid, according to your own sense of what’s important and what isn’t, work as much as possible on items in Quadrant II (and Quadrant I tasks when they arise).

    Getting to Know You

    Spend some time trying each of these approaches on for size. It’s hard to say what might work best for any given person – what fits one like a glove will be too binding and restrictive for another, and too loose and unstructured for a third. You’ll find you also need to spend some time figuring out what makes something important to you – what goals are your actions intended to move you towards.

    In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray or, at best, have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

    These three are the best-known and most time-tested strategies out there, but maybe you’ve got a different idea you’d like to share? Tell us how you set your priorities in the comments.

    More Tips for Effective Prioritization

    Featured photo credit: Mille Sanders via unsplash.com

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