Chinese Exchange Host Part 1: First impressions
The exchange students stand out from the typical WHS student courtesy of their school uniforms, which they wear as they shadow their host students.
The Chinese exchange students don’t seem too different from American teenagers, other than being a bit quieter and more polite than American students. However, I have noticed a few cultural differences.
One thing I observed right away was how eager the exchange student I’m hosting, Jennifer, was to experience American culture. Instead of staying in Friday night after a long day of traveling, we headed over to the football game against South Boston.
Jennifer told me that she had never watched football before and didn’t understand the rules, so I tried to explain them to the best of my ability. We already know how unique we are with American football, but something I found very different was that she had never seen many sporting events before, besides the Olympics.
She went to the 2008 Beijing Olympics where she watched swimming, which, according to her, is one of the most popular sports in Beijing. Some of her other classmates watch soccer and basketball, she said, but neither seem as popular there as they are in the United States.
One thing that Jennifer did that caught me by surprise was ask me to slow down while I was talking. After studying foreign languages, I know that it’s much easier to understand someone when being spoken to slower rather than faster, but I had never really transferred that idea over to English. In addition, I never thought of myself as a fast speaker.
Also, in China, drinks are far more popular warm than cold. Only in hot summers do people add ice to their drinks. So, the first time that Jennifer asked me to heat up her drink, I was somewhat confused. For her, it’s one of the biggest differences in American culture.
But Jennifer still seems eager to try new foods and activities. She seems to like all of the new foods that she tastes. But I’ve been warned that the exchange students will say that they like things that they don’t, just to be polite.
However, the biggest difference between China and the United States is the school. In the United States, we have school buses, but in China, they don’t. In Chinese schools, the rules are a lot more strict than they are in the United States, so WHS’s rules seem a lot more laid back to her. This is a positive difference for Jennifer; she’s enjoying the change.
Jennifer seems very excited to learn about American culture, and I hope we have a nice next two months together.