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I've recently met a few Chinese people preparing to go to Britain to study for a year. It made me think of an article I read a few weeks ago http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/mortarboard/2013/apr/11/why-arent-brits-making-friends-with-overseas-students
The article says that many people at British universities are concerned, because it seems that the foreign students that are coming to study there don't seem to be mixing with the British students. Although affecting all nationalities, this problem seems particularly acute with Chinese students (hence "Chinese phantoms"). I've written a Chinese notebook about it here:
I'd like to hear of any personal experiences of studying abroad. Did you find it hard to make local friends? Also, does your own university have many foregn students? Do they mix with local students, or do they tend to keep amongst themselves? Should the universities do more to encourage people of different nationalities to mix? Or maybe you think that it's only natural for people to hang around with people of their own culture when abroad.
I'd love to here any experiences or opinions!
Just to add my own experience:
I'm currently studying Chinese in China. Sometimes it's really nice to be able to speak with other native English speakers, as it's still difficult to express myself myself in Chinese. Plus the culture and way of life here is so different from back home! But on the whole, I try to spend as much time with Chinese people, watching Chinese films, reading Chinese books etc, because I want to improve my Chinese and understand Chinese culture. On the whole, the people in Harbin are very friendly (if a little shy sometimes).
I agree with you!
It is very noticeable for most Chinese to have such ethnic affinity with their fellows as I know . They are not intended to show withdraw behavior as you mention before. I am not curious about Chinese phantoms as most of Chinese were educated in traditional and conservative way in their countries . They were taught compliant and docile . They were encouraged not to have their own opinions . They were told to be conservative in everything. That is why most of them look like a little shy and shortage of confidence in western countries, however, Nobody is willing to be designated as phantom . Maybe such disturbance against foreigners can be dissolved some time by some way.
Further more , your Chinese is quite fluent so you do not have to worry about talking with native Chinese speakers.
I AM GLAD TO SHARE MY EXPERIENCE IN CHINESE CULTURE AND WHY THEY ARE DOING SO.
I was last year in Germany for 2 Semester as a visiting student and lived with local students, I only spoke german and english, sometimes a little french and spanish there, I joined parties with local students,cooked together in the kitchen after seminars, discussed political or cultural issues together with german or international students from the States or France at night, so after being one of them was quite amazing ,cause we could share many interesting point of views or even experienced something I never did before in my life, but as the talk went on, I did feel uneasy, so I could understand why it's not easy for other chinese students to get local friends.
China is a visa-restricted land, it's not easy to get a visa to go abroad for further study. China is not a free country. There are millions of friendly, nice and hard woring chinese people not being able to see the outside world. They don't have the access, have no money to make their dream realised. So actually this kind of phanomen even bothers the students who already got the access, they were scared somehow, being approved or being rejected to study in UK, almost every chinese who studies already in UK has thought about that.
Other than chinese, there are still korean and japanese studying in UK, so I don't think chinese are the only nationality who group themselves and only speak chinese. There are not only chinese, but also korean and japanese gathering together and grouping themselves in the clique ,unless they are already local, kind of mixed, ( born and brought up in UK, look like asian but have a UK passport ) or coming from Taiwan, Hongkong or Singapor lol. I met some japanese girls who were also studying in Germany last year, they seldom spoke with local german students with the fact that Japan is regarded as a one of the highly democratic and developed country in the world.In most of the countries in East Asia, academic degree is overvalued, especially for China, a land with hundred thousand graduates each year. A bachelor degree is therefore barely enough for convencing other people.Since not everyone could be admitted to the so called 985 key universities in China (similar as IVY Leagues in the States), these students are more likely to go abroad to presue a Master Degree as long as their parents are enable to pay their bills. As far as only a few scholarships are issued every year to encourge international students to study in UK, most of chinese students have to pay regular tuition fees which, just like you said, twice or 3 times so much than the regular fees from a local UK student.
So as far as international courses are offered to let internatoinal students be able to finish their M.A. in 2 Semester then getting no chance prelong the visa and get a working permit there in UK, so I don't think the international students do have the need to make local friends, they will have to go back to their home country after all the efforts they made. I know some good friends who are now studying in UK and already finished their study and go back, almost all of them got an IELTS 6,5 or even higher (B2+), and to be frank, as far as they try, they could really know some life long friends, but they will go back to china one day, so it's gonna be truely depressed and frustrating, knowing someone from the local places and being very good friends but then lost contacts and not being able to gather together few times a week.Do you really think that chinese students are good friends, when they live, go shopping, travel or study together and nice to each?
I am wondering if I study one day in the UK, I definitely won't choose the same path as most of the chinese did, I would only make contacts with local UK students, if my english is not sufficient enough for me to make local contacts, I would prefer studying and being alone as than to making chinese contacts.There are certain courses in UK，which are not that expensive as expected, international students only need to pay nearly 4000 pounds tuition fee (art history, langues and cultures ect.) pro year. So there are aisan students, who pay over 8000 pounds for the tuition fee and study business management, they are having a sense of priority and pride over others (other other students who are coming from the same country as they are), but when they are approaching UK students, it seems that they are behaving like 100 procent gentlemen with a receptive mind, so I actually can't get it sometimes, I was wondering why people could got two mentalities when they are faced with different people. They are actually wealthier then the local UK students, but they worship and have blind faith in them and forfeit national dignity, in fact, such kind of worship is very common to be seen in China , even people deny it sometimes, they still have it lolSo it's quite difficult to say that international students especially chinese students are rejecting making contacts with the local students, the trends seem to be like based on the fact that china is not a free country lol
That is so much for it to make friends with local people . I consider most students don't have to expect too much to be attached with local students. To be more natural would be better with local friends and do not show too much abash on your firends as well.