For my cultural interview, I talked with my Chinese roommate Louis to get his perspective on Chinese culture. Louis is a Chinese citizen born in a city in Inner Mongolia, a large province in northern china boarding Mongolia, and graduated from Fudan last spring. He has also studied abroad in Germany and has a decent global perspective even if he has never been to America. He did a good job explaining a lot of the similarities between the two cultures and china and the west.
China itself is hard to identify as one culture to compare against the US because it is so diverse and large. However, in the overall culture, one of the biggest differences is the change vs tradition aspect. China still holds on to a very traditional point of view and lifestyle. One of the biggest examples of this traditional mindset is that family members must stay within their home city or village. For a large part, except for school and work, it is very hard for people to move from a city to another city and even harder from a village or farm to a city. My roommate if not for the fact he lived in shanghai for school would not have been able to move here. Compared to the US where we can move anywhere without question this idea is very foreign. This example is probably one of the more extreme differences. Formality was actually a surprise when he talked about how overall it isn’t that different from the United States. As adults tend to not need to be very formal unless their job requires it like in the states. Formality does exist and China is a little more formal than the United States but my roommate explained that in most aspects of life you don’t need to be formal however school tends to be a bit more formal. The Universities here aren’t formal to the point you wear suits and ties to school but when you interact with professors you have to address them a certain way. For example, at QU if a professor makes a mistake someone in the class will more than likely correct the professor but here at Fudan that is very insensitive and embarrassing for the professor. This formality also ties into what Louis informed me about the concept of face over here in China. Face is the public persona a person has in relation to who they are and what they are doing. So, for example, the professor has a certain face for when he is teaching a class, it is meant to show that he is in charge of the class and holds knowledge to teach thus making him respectable to the class. But, going back to the correcting him this act would make him lose face in front of the students which my roommate warned me is something that you never want to make a professor do. The last major aspect that popped out at me is the youth vs age question. I kind of knew that china highly respected elders but it is different hearing it in the states and having my roommate inform me about it. Unlike the US, China highly regards elders in their culture specifically elders in one’s own family. Adults are expected to take care of their parents to the point where it is not uncommon for the adults to have some of their parents living in the same home. Compare that to the US where elders tend not to be culturally required to be cared for by their children.
One part of home campus life I do not tend to identify with is Greek life. It is not that I feel uncomfortable with it just that it was never something I cared for. One benefit of sitting down with a representative is to be able to understand Greek life culture a little more, understanding what Greek life is all about and what it means.
My roommate unfortunately is not a fan of pictures and did not want me posting one of him.So Instead I included a picture from an old water town outside shanghai.