Why foreigners come to China
Updated: 2014-12-08 11:36
Today I read what teamkrejados wrote in her article "What did you say?" Follow the link to read it http://blog.chinadaily.com.cn/blog-1372409-25076.html
It was a great article but it highlighted something I find very interesting when conversing with Chinese people. The question is always asked of foreigners "Why did you come to China?" and there is a perception that our countries are infinitely superior to China. I think however, we see the disadvantages in our own society and look to other societies that lack such disadvantages and become instantly envious. I’d like to discuss this more in detail, with my thoughts on the matter.
I come from Britain and I am very aware I come from a pretty privileged background even if I come from a relatively poor family in Britain. Compared to the rest of the world, I have a ton of opportunities that come from being British. For one, we have free education, healthcare, social welfare and the greatest passport in the world (in terms of how many countries we can travel to without a visa) yet it’s not always a bed of roses.
With such massive advantages why would I bother coming to a “backwater” like China? (I say this sarcastically, it is by no means a backwater.)
After living in my country for so long I get upset at many of the negatives in our society, like teamkrejados mentioned; extreme commercialism, families living on the borderline, society benefiting the rich etc. These negatives are not so often highlighted in movies so much although sometimes they are (watch Trainspotting, Neds, or Sweet Sixteen for good movies about the lower stratums of Scottish society). I am attracted to China as it has something my country doesn't, just like Britain has a lot of things China doesn't have. When judging our own society however, we shouldn't compare it with others as we have a bad habit of comparing the cons rather than the pros. Such is human nature, that we always see what others have and think it is better than what we currently have.
I come to China and I don't see the negatives when I am here, I have only been here for 2-1/2 years and so far I love it. Sure, I have the odd situation that makes me uncomfortable but that happens everywhere. I think what's important to remember is that I like it because it is DIFFERENT. I have not been here long enough to fully appreciate the negatives of this society and I am still overwhelmed by all the positives. If you speak to a Chinese person they will be quick to point out the negatives of their country, just as I will be quick to point out the negatives of my country but I think it’s because we want to give people the whole picture and remove any assumptions they have of our country. However we should always try to remember to give an unbiased view. I am usually pretty negative about Britain but I am sure a Chinese person going there would find it a great experience.
For any Chinese reading this, I do think the West is great even if I complain about it a lot. But I think, more importantly, all countries are great in their own way. You often get out what you put in and I don't want Chinese going to another country with bad ideas about that country as it will just ruin your experience. The best thing you can do is go with an open mind and explore it yourself. Throw your books and movies out the window and just take a walk down their streets, eat in their restaurants, drink in their bars and talk to the locals and then you can come to your own decision as to what the country is like. I noticed a few articles here on CD as to why we should study abroad. I wouldn't suggest studying abroad just for the education, I would study abroad for the experience that comes with learning more not only about another country, but about your own species.
So why did I come to China? I came to China because I don't want to spend my life stuck in one part of the world. I came to China because I wanted to challenge myself and learn Chinese, the supposedly hardest language in the world. I came to China because I wanted to experience a culture so unlike my own because I love learning about people, about our lives and how one species can live in so many different ways. I came to learn Chinese so I can converse with 25% of the world if the need arises. I came to China to try the food and the drink. I came to China to let my senses experience that which they could not experience in my own country. I came to China to make friends, to have fun and ultimately enjoy myself. I hope foreigners remember why they came here in the first place and it is not just for the economic advantages of being a foreigner in China. China has a lot more to offer than money and only by widening our perspective shall we notice it.
The original blog is: http://blog.chinadaily.com.cn/blog-1369370-25148.html