Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Antonio C. - Nanchang, China - Fall 2013

I landed at night and couldn't see much of anything but while driving to the university, I noticed that many people had scooters and many just walked on the road. As I got into my dorm room I laid everything out and put everything away. After that I wanted to rest after my 20 hour travel. As I woke up the next morning, I looked out and saw my university. The chatter of birds and the language of the Chinese is all I heard from my window. I walked down and stepped into China.
It is a very different country than the United States. Different but yet not so threatening. Yes the language barrier is a big one but the locals here in Nanchang are very helpful and patient as I try to fumble with my translator. If you like Chinese food you have come to the right place! The food here is amazing and so much cheaper than anything Chartwell sells. I really never know what I order because I cannot read Chinese well yet but everything is scrumptious!
On the second day, the university organized a tour of the city and boy is it modern. China is a developing country but with the sky scrapers and lack of pot hole streets, it is very different than Chicago. For starters, the big temple is thousands of years old but yet it is untouched by the city around it. The honks and horns of taxis and cars was lost in this place of solitude and tranquility. After a delicious lunch in the city do we go shopping on the campus store. They have everything!!! from clothes, to school supplies, to a watch store, to a full department store on the second floor, this is the best campus store I have been to! I got all my room necessities for less than 200 yuan ($30)!!
The locals all now know us and are extremely friendly. As I said before, they are patient but they go above and beyond what is required of them at times. A classmate of mine once forgot his money and the vendor let him have the jin bing (a delicious bread that is kind of like pizza bread) for free. The next day he went back and tried to give the vendor extra money but the vendor refused and even chased him to give him the extra money back. The friendly nature of the Chinese people is kind of foreign to me as many people back in the States always want a tip even if they do a little extra.
China has captivated my mind and is growing on me.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Antonio!
It sounds like you're having a wonderful time already and I know I can't wait to go abroad! I will be studying in Italy this coming spring and I don't speak a word of Italian. Do you have any advice on dealing with not only the culture shock, but the added stress of not really knowing the language being spoken around you? I can't wait to continue to read your posts!
Abbie Teague, CPP250

3:47 PM  
Blogger Antonio Cabral said...

Hi Abbie!

The culture shock is something that does indeed happen. The only thing that works for me here in China is to not sit there and try to understand, just do it and go with the flow. It all makes sense to you in time. The language barrier is one that can be frustrating at best. I can still manage with a very small vocabulary. I use my android phone to translate messages or words and so far I have managed to get a haircut exactly how I wanted it. It isn't bad but it is an advantage to know the language. But it will be easier to learn since you will be constantly exposed to it.

I actually am studying with Italians and it is true that they talk with their hands a lot haha. But I have talked with them and exchanged stories of our home countries and Italy sounds beautiful and wish you the best on your study abroad!

Antonio Cabral

4:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, China sounds amazing! When you were preparing for study abroad there how did you go about selecting your courses? Also, did you sign up for classes once you got there or did you sign up beforehand? Thank you! Have fun, be safe! :)
Shelby, CPP250

9:13 AM  
Blogger ErikPantoja246 said...

Hello Antonio,

It seems like you are having such a great time experiencing the Chinese culture through a beautiful and scenic university. I am aware that you seemed to go through a bit of a culture shock in the beginning and mentioned that it was quite normal. What would you say was the MOST difficult aspect to get used to in terms of adjusting to the chinese culture and how did you tackle that aspect?

-Erik Pantoja

12:15 PM  
Blogger Antonio Cabral said...

Hi Shelby!

I just talked to my adviser and we selected the courses I wanted. I signed up for those courses once I was already over here.

Antonio Cabral

8:43 PM  
Blogger Antonio Cabral said...

The most difficult aspect is the language barrier and customs. The language is self explanatory but that was solved with a translator and having a general understanding of key words so you can guess what thy are trying to say. The other is customs. You know how in the states one closes their fist and stick their thumb and pinkie out to signify "i want a drink"? Well here it doesn't mean that haha. It means six. So when you are saying ke le (cola) and you say that to them and show them that signal, they will bring you 6 bottles of coke. The other is walking in the cities. the Chinese have little sense of personal space so you learn to bump into them and not say sorry. But I will say, one custom that I got used to real fast is not tipping.
You just over com them by doing what the Romans do. It isn't bad to try to imitate your host culture, In China, they welcome the attempt at their culture as a honorable gesture and sign of friendship.

Antonio Cabral

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like an amazing experience! I am currently a freshman here at Elmhurst College looking at study away programs like this in hopes of experiencing something similar!

10:40 PM  

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