Since I have been to China before, I forget to share major differences between Chinese and American culture, so I want to share and talk about a few different Chinese cultural habits that I have come across in Harbin and my previous travels to China. The first one I wanted to share and I have seen some of the Chinese international students at Pitt do is use umbrellas while its a perfectly sunny outside. Why on earth would someone want to hide from a beautiful day of sun and not get a nice tan? Because the perception of beauty and social status in China is they want to become more white or pale. For both guys and girls. It’s the complete opposite of us Americans, especially after a long cold winter in Pittsburgh. The next cultural difference is about interactions Chinese people who have never seen an American in person. There are usually three different situations that can happen here. Most people who have been to China immediately jump to the Chinese take pictures of them or ask them if they can take a picture with them. Yes, this has happened to me numerous times including this past weekend when I visited the Confucius Temple here in Harbin. A Chinese couple approached me and the Chinese woman asked me if I would be willing to take a picture with her. But, since I am under the language pledge. I have been more cognizant of the two other situations. The first one is random Chinese people approach you out of nowhere say hello or try talking to you in English. Usually, this is a positive situation and occasionally a negative one. Eight times out of ten, the random Chinese person wants to practice his/her English or just wants to talk to you because they never interacted with an American or foreigner before. The negative scenario, I find quite amusing. Its Chinese people shouting or mocking Americans in English with complete random English phrases or sentences. For example, this past weekend again, when I’m was walking in one of Harbin’s malls. I passed by a completely random Chinese father and son. The father was asking me “what did you have for dinner” with horrible pronunciation and it was early in the afternoon at the time. And when these people try to have a conversation with you, all you have to say is 我听不懂你英语，你可以说汉语吗 (I don’t understand your English, can you speak Chinese?) Works like a charm, they either run away or they start talking to you in Chinese. Extremely useful especially if you are under a language pledge and I highly recommend it for other students studying abroad in China. Lastly, the third situation which is the most common, they just blatantly stare at you as if they had never seen an American before and say absolutely nothing. Moreover, why I am sharing this all? Because my biggest takeaway from CET Harbin program is coming to realize how grateful I am for this opportunity to study abroad in Harbin and experience these cultural differences.
PS: the pictures I attached are photos of Harbin’s night market and food from there. Distinct characteristic of Harbin and Harbin is well known for its night market.