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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 August 16, 2018

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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The power of habit

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to make a reminder works for you

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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