I was sitting in a booth at the northernmost end of the Student Union. Jam-packed at high noon, my head was on swivel. I didn’t know whom to look for but, once I saw her approaching, I had a hunch that we’d get along.
Contrary to my narrow expectations, the girl that approached me was a brown-haired, audacious adolescent with a personality that refused to hide. I waved, she sat down across from me, and we exchanged typical greetings. As we made small talk, I progressively learned little things about her. My “cousin” from Guangdong province enjoyed spicy food, as did I. I told her that I was a fan of music; She enjoyed listening to the likes of Girls’ Generation and Hyuna. She said that she enjoyed the yoga class she was enrolled in at the Huff; I unsuccessfully attempted to describe to her my favorite pose, the eagle. We were both fans of the Laughing Tomato’s red pepper soup, which we each unknowingly ordered. We slurped as our conversation drifted.
Genuinely curious, I asked her one of the most obvious questions you can torment a foreign exchange student with: What is most different here compared to where you are from? This is what I learned, compacted with what I gathered from our next few lunches in booths and over bread bowls.
Chinese Culture – From a Millenial’s Perspective
- Family is priority. As happy as she was to have a bit of a break from her siblings and extended relations, she admitted that she missed the sense of community. I noticed that her friends appeared to feel the same. They tended to gather in large groups and were extremely close-knit, despite having met each other a month prior. I envy this fundamental Chinese value, considering how valuable blood relatives are.
- Individuality and identity are of emerging importance. While responsibility to her family held firm, she said that Chinese youth was noticeably more welcoming of independence and eccentricity. While this is an ideal engrained in American culture, this generation of Chinese will be one to watch with the likely occurrence of transitional mentality.
- Western media has reflected relatable views onto Chinese youth culture. This applies especially to the protests in Hong Kong, which are widely publicized by American news outlets. While she agreed that elections could be fairer, she believed that most young Chinese remain content, not rebellious.
I am very grateful to have had Jean as my OU Cousin this semester, for I have gained insight into a life that I will never know. As today’s takeaway, I would like to challenge myself and my fellow millenials to remain open-minded and accepting of all cultures; Let us not fear, suppress, or censor what we do not understand.