Downloading a new way of life
Marcus Clem | Collegio Reporter
International students are common at Pitt State and, more often than not, they travel, work, eat and study together. They speak a language foreign to most other students and American students often don’t understand their lifestyle. However, their understanding of our lifestyle is impressive.
PSU and the American way of life have had a profound effect on the lives of students like Shuaibin Guo, who is from Henan University of Science and Technology in Luoyang, China.
“I think it has been hard for me to adapt to the environment here,” said Guo, graduate student in mechanical engineering technology. “I was surprised by the devotion to football. Chinese people do not express their emotion in an openly profound way. They keep their feelings inside. Sometimes, they do not express themselves. Through my experience in the last year, I know that Americans will always express their opinions.”
Ying Ying Li is an international student with more experience studying abroad. She studied for a year in Nice, France, in 2009. Li is seeking her master’s degree in business administration (MBA), and she says she has partially embraced the flow of information and foreign culture, while striving to preserve her Chinese identity.
Guo says he has also taken in political, social and economic information that he could not access in China.
“Sometimes the American government will release reports about human rights, to criticize other countries’ human rights and civil rights,” Guo said. “I think that is correct to some degree. In China … we cannot log into Facebook, you know. Sometimes we cannot get all the information. But from our opinion, it is none of your business. We say, ‘You do not have the right to just criticize us.’”
Such political and economic concerns are also found among students from other foreign countries. Olive Lee says she feels part of the problem stems from Chinese students’ own actions.
“I think that Chinese students are blocking themselves,” said Lee, a student from Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea. “They have more opportunities to learn about other cultures and other languages, but usually they don’t do it as much as they should.”
Li says she speaks English fluently but she has been frustrated by other languages.
“The problem is not the cultural difference. The most difficult thing for me was, I can’t speak French,” Li said. “The language was the biggest problem. French people, they are not really nice when you speak English to them.”
Lee says she has experienced the same problem with Chinese students in Pittsburg.
“I really don’t know why they do it,” Lee said. “There are some Chinese students who I know are really good with their English, but sometimes they still talk to me in Chinese. They also always ask us why Korean students do not speak Chinese. They assume that all Asia, at least people from all Asian countries speak Chinese.”
Guo and Li will both return to China upon receiving their degrees. Guo says he believes that new information and ideas will allow Chinese society to become less restricted and allow Chinese people in general to become more open, in time. He says both Americans and Chinese have unfortunate misconceptions about each other that he would like to see corrected.
Li says she does not concern herself with controversy and prefers to focus her interests on her professional enrichment.
“I am from South China. We don’t talk about political things,” Li said. “We are practical. We just want to have a peaceful life.”