Last week’s classes offered a lot of insight into China’s past and present. It was a great reminder of how the culture has been around far longer than our beloved country. Despite this extensive history, however, the People’s Republic of China is younger than the US since it was only established in 1949. This was the most illuminating fact I learned personally. I knew very little about China’s past governments and dynasties, let alone that they have attempted many different forms of government.
One similarity between China and the US that may be surprising to people is that there are a variety of different ethnic groups within both countries. When Americans think of China, they picture the classic Han Chinese. Although the Han dominate the population, there are others who do not get enough recognition. For example, there are the Tibetan monks to the west and the Mongolians to the north. This is particularly striking since a stereotype of Chinese people in general is that they all look alike, yet there are so many groups that call the country home.
A cultural difference that will be difficult for me is expression. In the United States, we say what is on our mind and usually do not try to hold back. We are not afraid to say no or cut right to the point of a conversation. In China, this frame of mind goes out the window. Especially when in a professional setting, we must think carefully about what we say as not to embarrass not only ourselves (no need to reinforce the brash American stereotype), but also people around us. I wholeheartedly admit that I can be a blunt person at times, so this will require much thought and self-restraint. My personality is to avoid talking in circles, favoring getting straight to the point, so I am aware of and ready for this challenge. Perhaps it will make me a better person in that way, we’ll see.
As long as I think before speaking and control my facial expressions I am confident that the internship will be successful. I am also looking forward to meeting people from all around China and other countries. Experiencing these aspects, among others, of Chinese culture will surely give me the experience of a lifetime. Being in the Asian business world will undoubtedly prove invaluable to my future career, whatever that may be. I am extremely excited to get started. Finally, go gators!