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For Students going abroad - Western Customs You Need to Kno

已有 8813 次阅读 2009-8-26 10:11 |系统分类:海外观察

Fornew readers and those who request to be “好友 good friends” please read my 公告first.

ing of another school year. Many Chinese students are coming to America for the fitrst time to pursue further studies. The old Chinese saying about 入境问俗is very ,much appropriate here. Unlike during the 80s when China was considered an underdeveloped country, when universities routinely waived application fees and conference offered heavily discounted registration fees for Chinese attendees. Nowadays, offices and equipment in Chinese universities are often better than those in the US, Chinese international conferences sometimes charge higher registration fees than those in the rest of the world, China is an economic heavy weight. Thus, people have different expectations. And if you want others to treat you accordingly, you should behave with 大国风度. Many customs in the west are 180 degree different from those in China.  Here are some suggestions for you to consider.

1. In science it pays to be curious. But in personal dealings, do not ask about age and salary, nor how much one paid for some purchase (e.g. an automobile, a dress, etc.) unless it is volunteered. In general only between close friends and relatives, you talk about and reveal personal information.

2. Be careful about discussing politics. Some Americans are passionate about it.

3. If someone invited you to dinner, or to stay overnight, or gave you an interview, do remember to write a hand written thank you note afterwards. At a minimum send an e-mail.

4. Unlike in China, professors in the US are individually responsible for the support of his/her students which cost some sixty thousand dollars per student per year. This amount although not from his personal saving is the results of his personal effort (he either persuaded the department to allocate some scholarship funds for you instead of to someone else or used his research fund competitively won). Furthermore, for the first two years a professor gets little useful research work out of you. Thus, don’t use him simply as a stepping stone to better opportunities in the US  and leave after one or two years. It is unethical and burned the bridge for others who come after  you.

5. America is a rich country. For conveniences, many things are provided free or on as you need them basis, for example, office supplies such as paper, ball point pens, toilet paper, and cleaning agents, etc. But this is not a license for you to take these items for personal gain. I have heard stories that Chinese students take large quantity of these items home for friends and family. Supermarkets often also provide free food samples for promotional purpose. But this is not an opportunity for a free lunch. You consume one piece for taste but not a dozen to satisfy your hunger. This is basically the well known economic problem of “the tragedy of the common” (Wiki it if you don’t know what this is) about public responsibility and selfish interest.

6. Chinese culture is based primarily on one race, the Hans. Many of you have heard or read stories about the violence and ghetto culture of African-Americans in the US. Some of these are  indeed true.  But this is not a reason for you to discriminate against them consciously  or unconsciously. America is multi-cultured. Thus, be careful in saying stereotyping things  or generalizations about Jews, Arabs, Latinos, African Americans, etc.

7. It is impolite to ignore a request for answer when you don’t quite know how to respond.  For example, an invitation to dinner or to take part in some event requiring a response. Not saying “yes or no” puts the host/organizer in a difficult position. It is better to explain why you cannot  give an answer at this time.

8. Westerners generally abhor sounds generated from your body. Thus do not chew food with your mouth open while eating. Slurping/sucking your soup or noodles is rude.

9. If you stay overnight with hosts, always make up the bed after you get up. Please strip the bed clean of sheets and pillow cases on the morning you are leaving and put them in a corner of the room ready for laundry. Don't let the host/hostess remove the soiled sheets and pillow cases for you.

10. It is impolite to carry on a cell phone conversation at a party, a dinner , or a meeting. You should turn off the cell phone unless you are expecting some important messages. If so, you should excuse yourself and answer the phone away from others.

11. Americans do not refuse presents and usually open the present rightaway and offer thanks (Chinese customs in my understanding require us to say no or sometimes negotiate to accept part of the gift only and put the gift aside unopened even when accepting the gift).

12. In mixed companies, do not speak only Chinese to your Chinese friends and leave out the others who do not understand the language.

13. Almost everything in the US operates on the "first come first served 按次序徘队" or
"by reservation 对号入座" principle.  Thus, don't rush to get ahead in admissions, whether it is a seat on the bus or an event.

14. Always remember you are a guest in a foreign country. You behave accordingly and not exclusively to further your selfish goals. You are representing China and are her unofficial ambassadors.


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