Culture Shock!

  • I’ve noticed here that no one wears shoes in the house (just like India), but the difference is that everyone seems to switch into house shoes as soon as they walk into the house.
  • I’ve seen changing rooms in clothing stores, and I find it interesting that there are a pair of slippers provided in each changing room.
  • As one may expect, everyone eats with chopsticks here. But, either I’ve been taught wrong or it’s different in every place because the way I use it and Chinese people use is not the same.
  • People have a more sense of traditionally here. for instance, a typical bar here is not a club but a café that also serves alcohol. And, boys and girls are more distant; no guys are allowed into the girls’ dorms and vice versa. But guys and guys and girls and girls are much more closer with each other (physically and emotionally), but that is normal here and doesn’t indicate any sense of homosexuality. Actually, homosexuality is heard of here but very rare.
  • As I have always heard, the Chinese don’t like the Japanese, but I was surprised to see that most people I’ve talked to, especially to the younger generations, people are either unbiased or love Japanese culture.
  • All the Ningbo Chinese people I’ve encountered seem to shower at night.
  • Ningbo people do not eat much spicy food, but my host family tries to make spicier food for me because they know I love it. I feel guilty sometimes because my hostfamily goes out of their way to try to make sure I’m well taken care of.
  • I don’t really get cultured shock that easily, and all these things were expected because India is similar to China in these ways.

Week Two Update

This past week has been really fun; I made lots of friends and also began my work as well. Here are some of my highlights.

  • I went to a business expo with many national and international booths set up to promote their companies.
  • I now have met all of the EPs, and I think they’re all really cool. They are Caleb and Alex (USA), Krigers and Chendra (Malaysia), Madeleine (Phillipines), Katherina (Indonesia), and Nikunj (India).
  • I went to the Ningbo Museum and learned about Chinese culture and history; on a side note, I also learned many useful Chinese characters.
  • I went to a large shopping mall complex and there went to a Chinese dubbed movie, a buffet, and an arcade.
  • My first presentation was my introduction about myself and my culture; there were seventy people present, ranging from loud children to curious adults. Anything I said in English, Nero would translate into Chinese.
  • I have had two English corners for little children where I worked with them and taught them basic colors, animals, and foods. Playing games is effective to teach children.
  • I have also had two English classes for adults where I had students ranging from not knowing any English to being fluent but needing more practice; I just taught everyone important function words and daily life conversation skills.
  • I have begun my dance classes, and with Alex’s help, I co-taught my community residents the Waltz and Ramba. We’ve only had one class so far and have a long way to go.
  • My Chinese, of course, has been improving too in this process. I gradually learn more words, recognize more characters, and use more advanced grammatical structures to listen and speak more proficiently. I do occasionally face challenges; for instance, I asked my homestay’s grandma for some sugar but instead got some soup. This is because of the tones in Chinese. The word “tang” with a high level tone means soup but with a rising tone means sugar.
  • Making friends and talking with them about so many different things is probably my most favorite part of this internship. I share my American/Indian culture with my host family while they do the same. I have very philosophical conversations with Meteor while I also enjoy teasing her. Basically, I want to say that every friend that I’ve made here has formed some sort of special connection with me that I won’t ever forget.

The past week or so

It’s been exactly a week since I got here to China! I’ve enjoyed it so far and seem to be well-liked among everyone as of now. My real “work” hasn’t really kicked in yet but will start tomorrow. Nero has been very busy with his meetings and tennis judging, so I haven’t been seeing him much, but he is making sure I’m well taken care of by the other LC and Red Wings members. So here are some stuff I’ve done so far.

  • played Twister and frisbee one night on campus with some of the EPs and LC members
  • sampled street food- It seems healthy but is not very vegetarian friendly. I ordered a soup (vegetarian), and they carelessly put some chicken into it. I’ve been told to tell them I’m allergic to meat to make the restaurant workers to take it more seriously
  • spent lots of time with my host family- I mostly talk in Chinese with them, so my proficiency is improving day by day. We chat everyday about various topics, and I share lots of pictures and stories about both my American and Indian culture. They even took me to meet their relatives on the outskirts of Ningbo.
  • learned some calligraphy with Nero
  • went to Tian Yi Ge, the oldest preserved library in China today
  • went shopping on street side stores- Everything is so cheap here!
  • threw a surprise party for Nero’s birthday and hung out in a café and played UNO and Mafia
  • learned the Waltz from Alex so that I can teach it to my community residents soon
  • figured out the public transit bus system, so now I can find my way to the university and back independently.
  • went to a Chinese style bar which is way different from America- Here, a bar is just like a café where people just sit and chat and may drink too. It’s very quiet, and most of us just drank non-alcoholic drinks, so there’s no pressure to drink here.
  • Made lots of new friends
Culture Corner
  • There are so many mosquitos here, and I get stung by at least five a day. People have electric tennis racket-like things that they use to swat and kill mosquitos. Even my bed has a mosquito net, so I feel very much like I’m camping when I’m sleeping surrounded by a net around me at night.
  • People don’t drink tap water. Either you have to boil it or drink bottled water.
  • Breakfast is so big and heavy here for me! 

Day Two Pics

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Please click on each picture for a thorough description.

Thursday, June 2nd

I woke up at 8:00 am when one of the AIESEC members, Candice, came to pick me up. I had breakfast and avoided the duck egg. Because I said I could eat egg, I think I’ll get provided many types of eggs, which I don’t want. We then went to the police station to register me as a temporary community resident card. I found out that each community is a big gated complex with many apartment buildings. It’s like a neighborhood community with outside social gathering areas. There is also an activity center for people to convene. I don’t quite know my job yet, but I think I am supposed to work in my own community and teach the residents in the activity center many different things. Then, Candice took me to her university- UNNC (University of Nottingham Ningbo). It has a very British style and is very environmentally friendly. I found out that Nero won the election for VP Projects yesterday, and now he also is a member of the EB like me. I soon met Nero too. Candice took me to buy a sim card to use locally in my old cell phone. I payed 80 RMB (40 cost and 40 to store money for minutes), but the sim card doesn’t in my phone. So, I need to get a local phone piece from China or borrow it from someone. Then, I sat with some AIESECers in a canteen. Some have strange English names. The ones I remember meeting were Rachel, Develoop, Anthony, and Patrick. Afterwards, Nero and Candice showed me around campus, and I also got to see Nero’s dorm room. Here, in China, girls are not allowed into boys’ dorm buildings, and each dorm room has four people living in it and a bathroom, so it is quite big. Then, they let me meet Alex, an EP from Michigan, and dropped me off with him and his buddy, Meteor. She took me to get some lunch, and I had fruit sushi and a spicy soup with random things I chose to put in. I think Meteor and I both got a slight bad impression of each other, but by the end of the day, we became best friends. Nero told me that I should help to be a bridge between the EPs and the UNNC AIESECers. I hope they don’t have too many high expectations for me because I don’t want to let them down. After eating, we were a little late but we took the bus to go to my community (Huatai Cambridge Community). We went to the activity center, and I met the lady named Journey that works there to help the residents. The Dragon Boat festival is coming up this weekend, so people traditionally something called zhong(4) zi which are like dumplings wrapped in bamboo. We went to my community’s activity to make them. I was not very good but got some help from one of the senior citizens. You have to take a bamboo leaf and place some uncooked rice with red beans and fold and wrap the bamboo the right way. We got to take some back to the host family to cook and eat. Then, we walked to Alex’s community (about 5-10 walk) and I met Shirley, one of the people in charge of activities just like Journey. And, I also met Joyce, a fourteen-year old girl there. We didn’t really do much there other than chat until Meteor walked me back to my community. I forgot my backpack so I walked back and got it and came back. Meteor came with me again and had dinner with my host family. While walking and in my apartment, we chatted a lot and became good friends. She has a final exam presentation tomorrow and looked sleepy and nervous but had to stay because she’s Alex’s buddy and because there is no one else to translate. After dinner, we walked back to Alex’s place. He was teaching dance (cha cha and waltz) to the residents in the outdoor community square. Meteor wasn’t really needed, so she asked to go back to my place so she could prepare for her presentation. Around 9:00 pm, we walked back to Alex’s place (four times back and forth today so I definitely learned my way). Caleb also came there to meet me; he is the crazy, typical American type. He wanted to go to UNNC, so I reluctantly went with him, Alex, Shirley, and Meteor in a taxi. I told my host family, and they gave me the key and told me to not stay out too late. They seem very caring of me, which I’m very happy about, and I also am glad I went the university because it was a lot of fun. It was night time and cool weather, and I met a lot of AIESECers. Caleb wanted to play Twister, so we played on the pavement. I played frisbee with some of the Chinese people. It was really fun! I was a really good thrower but not that great of a catcher. After 11:00 pm, everyone started to go back to their dorms, Shirley, Alex, Caleb, and I took a taxi back.

Wrap Up Thoughts

I probably have to figure out things as I go along, and everyday there are going to be some sort of activities in my community. I will also be expected to design and plan on my own of what to do with the community residents.

Also, I didn’t not see the sun once today. It doesn’t seem to really come out here in Ningbo;  It was fully cloudy, and there might have been smog in the sky. whether it’s because of the weather or smog or some other reason, I don’t know.

Finally, it is against the law to talk about Tibet or Taiwan in China otherwise one may get in trouble from the government. It’s more an AIESEC rule, and many people talk about it, but I wouldn’t recommend asking opinions and forming discussions because it may offend someone here.

Wednesday, June 1st

I have been here in Ningbo for about five days now, so I got accustomed to the life here. The first day, before I got into the airplane from Taiwan to China, here are my thoughts.

  • Am I going to be picked up okay? (As in will the person come on time or find me correctly from the airport)
  • How will China be different than America or India or Taiwan?
  • Will I be able to find alright as a vegetarian?
  • Will I get along with the host family well, can I communicate with my limited Chinese and their limited English?
  • What is my internship going to be like? I still don’t have a clear idea of my tasks. What if I am not able to do it?
  • I have to make sure I don’t do or say anything that can get me in trouble with the Chinese communist government.
As you can see, I had a lot of anxiety and doubt, but I realized that is natural and f understandable, so I didn’t worry too much, and everything did turn out all for the best. I met a very nice lady who sat next to me on the flight that helped me. I got picked up on time, was able to withdraw and convert money form the ATM, and was safely taken to my host family’s place. The family is very nice, friendly, and understanding. There is Mr. Lin the doctor, Mrs. Wu, the daughter who’s English name is Ruby who’s thirteen years old, and the grandmother, Mrs. Wu’s mother. They gave me good food and Ruby’s room to use for the next six weeks of my internship, and provided with me with Wi-Fi access. 
Culture Corner
  • Almost everyone here has only one child due to the rule in the 80’s.
  • Everything seems very environmentally friendly here because there is a heater to turn on hot water when needed, a switch to turn on the Wi-Fi, two buttons to flush the toilet (based on what you do), and recycling.
  • All the Ningbo people eat a bowl of rice for their meals and share dishes of meat and vegetables placed in the center with their chopsticks. Ningbo people love their seafood because Ningbo is close to the sea. 

An Intro to me

In case you don’t know me, here are some things that may be helpful to know as you read these posts. I’m eighteen years old and attend The University of Georgia. My major is Linguistics and Psychology with a pre-medicine track. I enjoy traveling and exploring different cultures, languages, peoples, and foods. Currently, I am studying Chinese, so I chose to come to China for an internship to practice and improve my Chinese. I was born in India but have lived in America for the past eleven years. Finally, my goal one day is to become a doctor and polyglot that is able to travel to different countries and help people that lack psychological and medical assistance.