This assignment began with a fairly amusing story which does eventually bring me on to topics I’ll discuss later…
I was sitting in the student union (a common destination for students as it is cheap and cheerful) on a Friday night celebrating my friend’s 21st birthday, when a young Chinese man came over to me explaining that he had lost a bet with his friends (a group of Chinese students male and female and an Italian student) and now he had to ask my permission to kiss me on the cheek. I didn’t know how to respond, but to laugh and tell him I didn’t think my boyfriend would be too happy with that, but clearly it had taken a fair amount of courage to come over, and it was harmless enough so I added that he had to kiss all the girls cheeks… and he did. He got a cheer from his friends clearly enjoying their night out, thanked us and carried on with his night.
Who said the Chinese were shy? This gave me the perfect opportunity to start networking and get in contact with students to interview. It turned out I knew the Italian student he just didn’t recognise me from a distance. Being part of what is known in China as “The E Generation” (those born after 1990) I wanted to discuss their views towards education, why they came to Dundee to study and how much influence do their parents/ relatives have on them and what they do with their lives. At university we are obviously here to study, but there is no denying that there is also the social aspects of being a student too (more so when you are in 1st year), I begin to wonder how the attitudes and behaviour of 18+ year olds here would be perceived in China.
I asked the following question to gain an insight to the importance of education and some cultural differences in student life between China and here.
How important is education to you?
How much influence do your parents have on your education?
Why did you choose Dundee University to study at?
What do you like about Dundee?
How does student life here differ from China?
The following responses I got were from Chinese students (female aged 21, male aged 22).
1.The develpment of China is based on education,and it really matters to everyone including me ,but honestly, the methods and condition of the education in most China is not good enough.
2. My parents support mine every decision, which Uni ,which country to go … and they don’t care my grade
3. I could apply to the University of Dundee through the ‘3+1+1’ programme more easily than applying to other universities
4. The uni is good ,and the people here are very nice ,the view is beautiful …
5. We can rent flats out the Uni,and cook for ourselves.
1.Education is very important for me. In China, you couldn`t be able to find a decent job if you don`t had a good education or something.
2. About my parents. I would like to say they have a big influence on my eduction. Basically they are my sponsors , without them I can`t get an opportunity of eduction. Plus, they are also good teachers in my life regarding how to be a right person.
3. I was supposed go to Japan as exchange student, However there was a horrible earthquake happened in Japan, so i chose my second option which is dundee university. No particular reason.
4. I think dundee is a great place to have fun and the people are nice here they are very friendly and polite.
5. I think the life here is totally different with China, people speak english here and to be honest they drink a lot. Going to night club or going to a pub is very social and common here, but in China is kind of crazy and unnormal. But still , for me it’s very exotic and attractive.
The responses I received highlighted the issues I thought that would arise as well as some surprising statements. Respecting your elders possibly comes hand in hand with making them proud and not wanting to disappoint them in the Chinese culture. This in turn enforces the say your relatives have on your life, education and future. This is emphasized through the support the parents have for their children’s education and want for a better life. I found it surprising that one interviewees mentioned that her parents fully support her decisions, but don’t mind about her grades. I think this is refreshing. I would have imagined a lot of pressure being put on their child(probably only child) to succeed expectations (yet again,maybe she was being modest and was super smart anyway). Education in China was highlighted not to be “good enough” therefore being educated elsewhere is the best option, which more and more of the fortunate ” E generation” have the opportunity to do so allowing them to grow and thrive in other cultures and allows China to develop in the long run when they return for work there.
When going to any country to study it is inevitable to be absorbed into the culture as well, or at least it would be a loss not to take the opportunity to do so. though I did find it amusing that it was mentioned about our social and drinking habits were highlighted. We Scots don’t do ourselves any favors do we? We should show our exchange students how hardworking and smart we are…and what we can do for China in the future too!