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丹尼尓

What are your experiences with fitting in with international Chinese students at your university? (outside of China)

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歐博思

By chance are you attending school somewhere in the Midwest? Because we had tons of Chinese exchange students in one building at my school as well.

 

Like others have said, I think it's best to make friends with like-minded people. When I was in university, I found it pretty easy to make friends among the 800+ Chinese students.

 

 

After dinner all the Chinese students wanted to play cardgames, or some kind of murder mystery guessing game. My Western/other friends were horrified. The whole thing seems very childish to them (and to me. I generally leave once the Wii or card games come out). They just want to drink and chat or go to the pub.

 

Beer+card games? Maybe you're just befriending the wrong people... I mean who plays 杀人游戏 not a little bit tipsy? :P

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丹尼尓

@歐博思 - Isn't language still a barrier?  I mean one could find other people with similar interests, etc., but I feel like making any connections would be largely hindered by language barriers, that is, unless you're near-native fluent...

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歐博思

In short, I'm not so sure--the phrase "actions speak louder than words" comes to mind. 

 

I've an odd feeling that we may have gone to the same school. Let me indirectly hint at the school, lest we too openly disclose ourselves.  :lol: 张老师 and 李老师 ring any bells?

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LiMo

@丹尼尔 

 

Glad I helped give you some insight. There will certainly be Chinese students who are interested in making friends with you, many Chinese students still look up to Americans as the height of modernity and the embodiment of “Western culture,"  so as naive as that might be I think you've probably got a good chance.

 

One method I used was to post adverts for a language exchange around uni, maybe your dorms have notice boards which would fit this method perfectly. A key trick is to write it in Chinese, it will stand out among all the English and I've found it has a high success rate, multiple contacts made within a week. Language exchange has many pitfalls and frustrations of its own which you can read about on the forums and elsewhere (there's a good articles on sinosplice I think), but it gets your foot in the door at least.

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Lu
Isn't language still a barrier?  I mean one could find other people with similar interests, etc., but I feel like making any connections would be largely hindered by language barriers, that is, unless you're near-native fluent...
If you have similar interests, there is a much bigger incentive to communicate despite, or across, the language barrier. Also, you'll have an obvious subject, not just general banter that will usually require a lot of fluency and cultural knowledge.

 

Someone recently told me about two fairly big-name directors (unfortunately I forgot who) who often run into each other at the Rotterdam film festival and have developed a real friendship, despite the fact that they are from completely different countries and don't have any language in common. That is of course an extreme example.

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Xiao Kui

I've always found Chinese students in the US easy to befriend, but my experience is with grad students and visiting scholars rather than undergraduates.  Some ideas:

 

1. If your uni has an international student center volunteer to be a language or cultural partner to take students shopping (many in NC didn't have licenses or cars) or invite students to your house for Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc or host a Chinese New Year party. 

2. If they are grad students a good conversation topic is asking about their research (the only time this backfired for me was when a Public Health doctoral candidate's research topic was on diarrhea. :)

3. Any knowledge of Chinese language or culture makes a great impression and goes a long way. When I speak Chinese with Chinese students in the US their faces just light up. 

 

I've found that many Chinese students struggle with Western-style small talk, especially workplace small talk, so an awkward conversation might make it seem like they are unfriendly when really they deeply desire to make local friends.  Something also important to keep in mind is that in China foreign guests are shown lots of hospitality and Chinese may have this expectation when they go to the West, not realizing that because our countries are more heterogeneous we refrain from effusively welcoming someone who is culturally different because for all we know that person's family has lived longer in our country than ours has.  (Once I asked an Asian student who was sitting in the international student center if she was an international student - turned out she wasn't and was visibly offended by my question.)  Because these perspectives are so different I usually tell Chinese friends that are preparing to study abroad that they'll need to be proactive if they want to make local friends - no one is going to roll out the red carpet for them. However, I did find that most of them were eagerly looking forward to make local friends while abroad. 

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Flickserve

See, what I'm thinking is this: perhaps I could work hard on my Chinese and bring it up to a level where I am native-level fluent and I know all the pop culture and historical references (let's ignore the 'how' part for now). As such, I would hopefully be seen as approachable and worth-getting-to-know in the eyes of Chinese, and hopefully my flexible cultural competency with both Chinese and American will add extra value.

Because here's my theory: Imagine a bubble, a circle, in open space. The bubble contains many, many dots inside it, each of which represents a single Chinese person. The membrane of the bubble is the border between the Chinese population and the outside, and I am a dot standing on the outside. Now, let's consider scenario #1: I, the dot on the outside, take the initiative to connect, and I start to move from out to in. My goal is to penetrate the membrane and land on the inside, which really means that I have successfully connected with Chinese people (on a meaningful level). Throughout this process, the mentalities of mine and the Chinese would remain constant: I want to connect, and the Chinese don't want to connect. Because of this, it would be impossible to connect with the Chinese because a connection requires a mutual desire to connect. So this scenario would fail. Now, let's consider a second scenario #2: I bring my language/social skills to the level I have explained in the second paragraph, and would essentially add value to myself. I would be able to make Chinese people come out of the bubble, toward me. This would require a change mentality, one from 'don't want to connect' to 'want to connect'. At the same time, even though I am not taking initiative as I usually would, I am still secretly craving a connection. Now, because there's a mutual desire for connection, it will be possible to make a connection with them, or at least someone. :P

Anyways, I kind of diverged onto a mini-rant in the third paragraph, but I think it could be useful nonetheless. :P

Found this on a language blog.

http://languagebanditry.blogspot.hk/

Second Reason why I feel indignant

To befriend someone for the exclusive purpose of language practice is dishonest and I don’t tolerate the use of people only as a means to an objective.

As an English Speaking Westerner, being befriended by youngsters who seek our friendship just because we are English speakers is not uncommon in Japan. Many Japanese speaking Westerners who have had extended stays at Japanese universities have told me that they often get fed up with having people wanting to hang around with them or wanting be their friends just so then can speak English. Here the example I have given is Japan, but this is not uncommon anywhere. It is however more common in places where English is somehow seen as exotic or even fetishized.

It is obvious that those who quickly move to befriend us thinking they can get practice are in fact only out to use us. If this wasn’t the case, why is it that in the case of Japan they are only looking to befriend people of European ancestry? Why is it that they show nowhere near as much interest in cultivating friendships with non English speaking Asian people or with any other non English speaking people? The reason is obvious. It is because they won’t get any personal gain from those friendships. So why should we Anglophones accept such false friendship which is seen in the eyes of the Language Bandit as a means to his/her personal goals? The truth is we shouldn’t. Furthermore we shouldn’t feel pressured to tolerate such friendships. Being used for their personal gains is a reason not to humour them or give in.

I was speaking to a friend the other day about the problem of being befriended by many who pretend to be a friend but in reality only want to bleed us of English practice. Just as I have mentioned in the previous paragraph, he noted that the Japanese students who had an interest in English were not making efforts to befriend non-Japanese Asian students, and so when confronted he would carry out some kind of “decency test”. When he suspected that people wanted to hang around with him only to get English practice, he would simply say of course in Japanese, “I am sorry, you are mistaken. I am a native Spanish speaker and don’t know English. But if you still want to chat, we can still chat in Japanese”. Some Japanese students from them onwards took less interest in him. Doesn’t this show that they were just trying to use him? Doesn’t this just show you that those certain individuals believe that knowing English language and willingness to let them speak with us in English are prerequisites for friendship? Don’t you too feel indignant for being befriended falsely and used? Am I the only one who believes that friendship should be based on much more than merely personal gain?

Again it gets worse. Not only are false friendships formed by Language Bandits for personal gain, even relationships are formed in which the bandit will only date people for language practice or to receive help with his/her English. In Japan dishonest girls who specifically seek Anglophone Western boyfriends purely for their English practice are again not uncommon. But when the guy wants some help with his Japanese it is a different story! Sadly some guys will not mind such relationships because they themselves are only after one thing. However, if you are a respectable guy who desires a real and sincere relationship, you will agree that such motives are in fact dishonest acts of Language Banditry. If you believe that using people for selfish reasons is wrong, then you too will agree that the existence those kinds of misleading language practice based relationships is evidence that the phenomena of Language Banditry does in fact exist and can be a severe problem for many.

@丹尼尓,

From your posts, I get the impression that you are trying to penetrate the Chinese bubble through just knowledge of the language. IMHO, if you were to do that to me, I wouldn't want to waste my time on you either. There is no other personal connection other than the fact that I am "Chinese".

It doesn't apply to just Chinese people. Have you ever seen the social misfit who desperately tries to make lots of friends, tried to force conversations unnaturally, laughs when it is not funny etc. They just cannot connect. You might perhaps be transmitting those same social cues. You hassle people and they obviously don't want have you as company.

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丹尼尓

@Flickserve - Hey Flickserve, thanks for your post, that was really interesting to hear.  You totally got the wrong the impression, but that's my fault for miscommunication - my English isn't very good either, it's not my first language.  Firstly, I totally agree with you.  Befriending people just for the sake of language practice is very shallow.  However, I have a genuine interest in befriending Chinese people (preferably those who have similar interests/hobbies, obviously).  Language practice is an added benefit.  It's as simple as that.  My interest in connection and relationships is genuine and not just for language practice.  Hell, if we'd speak in English, that would be OK.  Sorry you got the wrong impression.

 

And also, apart from 'genuine relationships' and whatnot (like mentioned earlier), language practice is a justifiable added benefit, one which I think you were addressing too seriously.  There's nothing inherently wrong with it.  If you're from another country, and you want to hang out with me so you can practice English - hey man, that's totally cool, as long as we have a good time and you're not being a fake a-hole in the process.  You can entertain me, tell me a joke, compliment me, ask me questions, buy me dinner, whatever value you provide: these can signify genuine, and it is possible to be genuine with people and their feelings while still seeking language practice if you want.  The stereotypical person who seeks out foreigners for the sole sake of language practice is how you described, a selfish a-hole who doesn't give back value to the other person, but that's not everybody, and is definitely not me.

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歐博思

But in any case, befriending people who even have similar interests as ME, mind you, is still really hard, and it's about penetrating the bubble in that context, where it's meaningful (otherwise there would be no point).

It sounds like 'Language Speed Dating' (copyright pending on this new idiomatic usage, penned by yours truly :mrgreen: ) will be just the right thing for you.

 

By being upfront with your language partner desires, you can quickly filter through a number of people while practicing your English/Chinese abilities and not have the other party feeling like you're just a language pirate. Of course, if it turns out in your brief time together that you guys 'hit it off', then no one said you can't take it a step further (real friends?) having wasted no time.

 

It doesn't apply to just Chinese people. Have you ever seen the social misfit who desperately tries to make lots of friends, tried to force conversations unnaturally, laughs when it is not funny etc. They just cannot connect. You might perhaps be transmitting those same social cues. You hassle people and they obviously don't want have you as company.

 

Who knows, maybe after crossing the bubble you will find that it's a horrible place to be and you want out pronto—there are just as many Chinese assholes as there are awesome people—but that said, I can relate that different personality types will have different social experiences, regardless of language. Under the circumstances, I would imagine "where would Chinese me be" and then go to that place to meet your long lost Chinese brother/sista'. "Language cuddling" will follow (**patent also pending).

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Flickserve

@Flickserve - Hey Flickserve, thanks for your post, that was really interesting to hear. You totally got the wrong the impression, but that's my fault for miscommunication - my English isn't very good either, it's not my first language. Firstly, I totally agree with you. Befriending people just for the sake of language practice is very shallow. However, I have a genuine interest in befriending Chinese people (preferably those who have similar interests/hobbies, obviously). Language practice is an added benefit. It's as simple as that. My interest in connection and relationships is genuine and not just for language practice. Hell, if we'd speak in English, that would be OK. Sorry you got the wrong impression.

And also, apart from 'genuine relationships' and whatnot (like mentioned earlier), language practice is a justifiable added benefit, one which I think you were addressing too seriously. There's nothing inherently wrong with it. If you're from another country, and you want to hang out with me so you can practice English - hey man, that's totally cool, as long as we have a good time and you're not being a fake a-hole in the process.You can entertain me, tell me a joke, compliment me, ask me questions, buy me dinner, whatever value you provide: these can signify genuine, and it is possible to be genuine with people and their feelings while still seeking language practice if you want. The stereotypical person who seeks out foreigners for the sole sake of language practice is how you described, a selfish a-hole who doesn't give back value to the other person, but that's not everybody, and is definitely not me.

Clarified rather nicely. :)

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Lu

Still, I think there is value in trying to get to know someone of another language/culture in order to learn more about that language/culture. Provided, of course, that you like the company of this specific individual and they enjoy yours. In the end, we only have a limited amount of time (and energy) that we can spend on social relationships, and I don't think it's necessarily wrong to want to spend some of that time on people of X language/culture, and thus not on people not of that language/culture.

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Angelina

Question.

Why are you interested in Chinese?

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丹尼尓

@Angelina - I just think the language is very cool and fascinating.  I was 11 yr. old, and I remember being fascinated by the characters and such, so I started learning it, because it's extremely interesting and fun.  Here I am now, and I don't see myself quitting, but I realize as time passes by, I have more and more of an urge to actually use and share my skill in the outside world, instead of being dormant in my own little "solo bubble" with this (somewhat) valuable skill that I have, which is why I started this thread.

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Lu

@Danni'er, have you tried language partners? You can have good or bad luck with this, so it's not a cure-all, but it can be worth a try. If you or the language partner are not getting much out of the exchange, it's usually not too difficult to let it taper off and not really meet again; if you get along a little bit, at least you get to practice your Chinese; and if you get along great, well, even better, and they can perhaps invite you to Chinese get-togethers and introduce you to others.

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Angelina

You have always been fascinated by Chinese characters and now that you are living next door to people fluent in the language you don't know how to approach them.

If you see people speaking Mandarin or reading something, maybe you can tell them you are interested. I guess one way is to tell them you are interested in the language when you see someone speaking it. On the other hand, you can meet people the usual way and if they happen to be Chinese, you can tell them you speak some Chinese and would like to learn more.

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studychinese

 

 

I made a reply to that here. 

 

https://languagebanditry.blogspot.com.au/2009/03/being-victimized-by-language-banditry.html

 

Reproduced below -

 

Great material.
 
I have seen some ruthless language rapings, and even been subjected to many attempts myself. Most times I was able to make an escape.
 
What is galling to me is that the majority of foreigners that go to Japan or other Asian countries do not have an interest in the local language, and have no intention of learning it. Therefore they either welcome speaking English with these people, or otherwise have no choice. So the galling part is that these language rapists will still aggressively seek out those people learning the local language and attempt to language rape them, even though they surely know that doing this is harmful to that student's language acquisition! Like the sick rapist that has consensual sexual options, the language rapist enjoys the forced option above all.
 
Gaslighting is among the most vile of language rapist tools. Pretending not to understand in order to force the conversation back to English. I have had this attempted on me in languages in which I am at an advanced level, for which I do translations at work, and so on. So this gaslighting does not work on me but I could see this causing a newer language student to abandon his or her studies and thus becoming the perfect victim for the language rapist parasite.
 
I think that the most important thing in combating language rape is to call it out. Identify what is happening at that moment right in front of everyone, as calmly and without butthurt as possible. By identifying the language raping elephant in the room, you disempower it. The language rapist relies on your sense of civility in order to carry out his or her activities. Author and sociologist John Murray Cuddihy termed this dynamic "the ordeal of civility".
 
I realize that I have been using the term "language rapist/rape" rather than "language bandit/banditry", and I acknowledge that rape is a loaded word. However, to shy from saying language rape is to ignore the seriousness of this phenomenon. For that reason I say "language rape" without apology.
 
I am looking forward to reading more of your work, in particular language rape counter-measures.

 

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Angelina

I think that the most important thing in combating

 

 

The most important thing is communication and socialisation. Combating what? Relax! 

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lips

rape?  bandit?  combat?

 

Was I hijacked to another site?  :O

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Angelina

I guess coercion is a word that can be used instead  :P

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