China Pre Departure Report

  1. Thus far, I have had limited international experience, and I have never been outside of the country for reasons other than vacationing with my family. Two summers ago, I traveled to Costa Rica for my little sister’s Make-A-Wish where I was able to endeavor on multiple fun-filled excursions such as surfing lessons and jungle zip lining. When I was younger, my family also took a vacation to the Dominican Republic; however, I was far too young to remember any of this trip. Unfortunately, I have not had the pleasure of leaving America for educational purposes, so I hope to make the most of China trip. I plan on co-oping for three rotations during my time here at Pitt, so the China trip may be one of my only study abroad opportunities. That being said, I hope to make the best of every aspect of the experience.

  1. Naturally, I didn’t decide to pick China for my first study abroad experience randomly. First, I wanted to make sure my destination was somewhere that I have had little cultural experience, both with people from that country and with the history of that country. It was initially my lack of knowledge about China that grabbed my attention, but of course there were other factors involved. Living in a continually more diverse country, it is more than likely that my future job will require me to work with people all over the world; I grew up in a primarily Caucasian area and had little experience with people from other countries, so I think that China will be the best fit to diversify me. Lastly, though I don’t currently have a vast knowledge about some of the treasures of china, I have always wanted to visit the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and some of the other wonderful parts of China that a book simply won’t do justice. There is nothing more exhilarating than seeing something beautiful in person for the first time.

  1. In terms of the main work difference that I am going to face, I think that this is perhaps the area that I have the least preconceived knowledge. I have little to no experience with professionalism in China and what happens in an everyday interaction. I believe that the work environment will actually be quite similar to the work in environment here in America. For example, it is considered rude to be on a cellular device during a meeting, and I think that the same kind of professional norms will exist in China. On the flip side, people tend to interrupt others in the United States to exact their opinions on the situation, but in China interruption can be interpreted as rude, so it’s important for me to understand these kind of socially constructed norms before I begin a professional conversation. While the United States and China may be very different in many ways, I have a feeling that the professional world is quite similar.

  1. I think that there will be two main differences between Chinese and American culture that I will observe during my trip. The bigger difference will be the emphasis of the individual versus the group; specifically, I predict that people in Chinese care more about the community then they do for themselves. For example, American parents teach their children that they can do anything that they want when they grow up, and generally put less of an emphasis on the responsibilities of being a citizen in the United States. In China, I think I will learn that in some manner this will be different, and perhaps children in China are taught that as an adult they will have to work to support the community. The second big difference will be the idea of respect. American teenagers and young adults tend to have significantly less respect for elderly people than teenager and young adults in other countries, and I believe that I may see this first hand in China. Furthermore, I think that people in China are raised with a stronger attention to respecting opinions of others. Instead of retaliating in a debate, I have a feeling that Chinese students simply accept the opinions of others while formulating a constructive response.

  1. In addition to the professional work differences, the politics in China is another somewhat unfamiliar topic for me. Of course, I know that China is a communist state for decades, so I think that there will be many pieces of propaganda-like information about the government itself. In the United States, we see unescapable advertising all over the place, and I think that since China is a communistic state we may not see as much of this. Furthermore, I think a big difference in politics will be rivalry. American politics is essentially a competition based on money and general opinion, but because China is communistic, I predict that all sense of competition will be eliminated. Instead, it may be that simply the more powerful person or party will win any kind of position.

  1. I think that the students I meet in China will be similar to students in American in many ways yet also different in many ways. Growing up in a different country that emphasizes hard work and respect, Chinese will have an equal passion for learning and an equal motivation to succeed as I do, and I envy this character trait. Furthermore, there is a common stereotype in the United States that Asian people are “smarter” than American students; however, I believe that Asian academic success can be attributed to cultural values of hard word. I also think that they will be respectful to my opinions, but offer their own opinion whenever there may be a discussion. Americans seem to stereotype Chinese children to be completely consumed in their studies, but I think that I will meet many students who love to have fun and make jokes outside of the classroom.

  1. I think that the difference in living conditions will be very different in China. When I traveled to Costa Rica, I was shocked by the vast underdevelopment compared to the United States, and I think that I will see similar conditions in China; however, I think that while the conditions will be similar in terms of how much poverty or wealth exists, there will be a difference in the kind of homes that exist. For example, in Costa Rica many homes were made out of wood and people owned many motorcycles and trucks, but I don’t think this will be the case in China. I am especially interested in being able to compare some of the cultural living norms between these two countries and identifying how history reflects modern day living. In terms of what is accessible to the average Chinese family in the home, I think that we will see people have electricity but not air conditioning or other advanced appliances.

  1. The most enjoyable experience for me will be a combination of exploring another country and learning more about the places that I visit. Of course, it is my responsibility to do some research before the trip so I know some history of the places I will be visiting, but pairing background knowledge with the knowledge I will accumulate on the trip will be absolutely fascinating. Additionally, I am excited to taste some traditional Chinese food. I always hear people talk about how foreign food is “Americanized,” but I have never been able to discover this for myself.

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