Be A Cool Chinese student

As much as it pains me to say so, Chinese international students have a bad reputation in western universities. Of course, I don’t mean academically – Chinese kids always perform phenomenally well in that regard. I’m talking about on the social side of life.

As you find yourself walking around campus next year, all of the domestic students you meet are going to be wondering which kind of student you are: a cool Chinese kid, or a weird one. Uh oh, this article is starting to sound offensive, isn’t it? Well relax! Being a cool Chinese kid isn’t difficult at all!

You see, when you have a dozen students from the same country studying at the same international university, it makes sense that they’d hang out together. Problems arise when those students start hanging out with each other exclusively. When that happens, you’ve got a big ol’ pile of weird Chinese students. They don’t hang out with Americans. They don’t speak English outside of class. They pinch their nose when they walk past the hamburger grill in the dining hall, and their dorm rooms always smell like noodles.

Wait a minute, that’s rude! That’s just Chinese culture! Blah blah blah…no it’s not. It’s weird. What you probably haven’t considered is that there’s one other Chinese student who purposefully does NOT spend all of his time with Chinese friends. He hangs out with his New Yorker roommate. He plays soccer with the Pakistani international student in his Economics class. He might even – gasp – date an American girl! This guy, my friends, is the cool Chinese student.

No, cool Chinese student has NOT forsaken his own culture. He hasn’t turned his back on his own kind. He’s not a race traitor, for crying out loud! He’s just a good global citizen. He’s very effective at introducing his own culture to people in other countries. He mixes well, and allows other people say “Hey, do you know Chen? Chinese kids are cool.”

Cool Chinese student actually turns his American friends onto learning about Chinese culture, maybe taking a Chinese language course, and maybe even visiting one day. Not to mention, for all his hard work, cool Chinese student ALWAYS graduates and returns to China speaking native-level English, far beyond that of his Chinese friends that never left their own social circle.

So as you embark on your academic adventure next year, make a point of being a cool Chinese kid. Be an ambassador for your own culture, not a ghost traipsing silently through someone else’s. I myself came to China all because a friend from Beijing convinced me that I would love it. You know what? She was right. Thanks Lin, I never would’ve made it if you hadn’t been so cool.

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