Narrative Essay Paper Sample
I know that there is an increasing number of Asian students in many American universities and they tend to perform really well, maybe even better than all the other students – at least that what they say. There is also a kind of stereotype that many Asian students are very competitive and not very interested in going out and having fun. I have to admit that it’s pretty much all I can say about them. Unfortunately, to this point my personal experience with the Asian culture was very limited since I have never been to Asia, although I would love to go and experience it first-hand.
I was flying to NY this summer to visit a friend and a passenger who was sitting next to me was a young man of approximately my age and looked rather Chinese to me. The trip was going to be long, I forgot a book and there was nothing interesting on TV. I felt a bit embarrassed to start a conversation – “what if it’s not polite in China to talk to strangers?” I thought to myself, “or maybe the guy doesn’t speak any English.” So we set without talking for about an hour until the stewardess offered us lunch. I am not a big fan of lunches on board, but there is no much choice when you are in the air. My neighbor refused and took out of his bag something weird, probably something that travelled with him all the way from China. Before eating himself, he offered me to try. That stuff tasted even weirder than it looked, but at least that was a good occasion to start a conversation.
Zhou Choi, that was the name of my neighbor, really turned out to be Chinese, as I thought, and a first semester student of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. It was a bit difficult to understand him in the beginning, but after a while I got used to the accent. Zhou was really worried his skills of English will not be sufficient for the studies and was even more nervous about fitting in. He was leaving all of his friends and his girlfriend back home, so he anticipated that the coming year will be anything but easy for him. Well, I guess I would be going crazy too if I would be flying to China all on my own. Zhou was flying from LA where he spent 2 weeks in a family of relatives. He said it wasn’t easy to get used to the American food and he is pretty upset he never actually took time to learn to cook himself. He was pretty sure that it will take him some time and plenty of stomach aches to get used to having hamburgers for lunch. Back home he definitely ate healthier.
Zhou was not very familiar with the American music scene and movies. He was also not a big fan of parties and sports and it was the first time in his life he was abroad, so finding common topics for conversation was pretty difficult. But Zhou was like a whole new world to me, that I finally got to explore, so I was only very happy to talk about him.
Zhou told me that he took a 3-week long preparation course for the Chinese students travelling to the US, where he was told about differences to expect and difficulties to be prepared for. For example, he was told during the course that he might expect to gain many friends quickly, however, the friendships will not necessarily be stable or close. Apparently, the Chinese prefer to have a small number of close, lifelong friends who feel deeply obligated to help each other. He was also told that the Americans don’t really share their food, which he has actually forgot when offered me his snack earlier. I asked Zhou if it’s true that “face saving” is so important for Chinese. He said that it is still an important national trait and overall people from China are brought to express their emotions less and be more polite than Westerners – for example, interrupting others while talking is considered awfully rude.
Zhou said that it was his parents who decided that he has to study in the US and were preparing him for this since he was 14. His education has always been his parents’ top priority. He definitely feels lots of pressure now not to let them down. “I think we have a much stricter upbringing in China than you guys do,” he said. Zhou was not allowed to go out much, especially during the weekdays, and didn’t really have time for sport. Zhou said he doesn’t think that Koreans or Chinese are smarter than Americans, it’s just that they have different priorities.
Up until now Asian world seemed very remote and different to me, but after a couple of hours in the plane with Zhou, I changed my mind a bit. Maybe some things in Chinese way of life are weird for me and I am very glad that I was born and brought up in the US. With all the pressure parents put on Zhou, high expectations and stress of achievements, it must be not easy for him. But at the same time, I guess, there is much to learn from our Chinese colleagues, for example, their enthusiasm to study. I know, I’ve started the story with the stereotypes, which are not necessary right, as most stereotypes are, but these were simply the first things, which came to my mind when thinking about the Chinese youth. I hope to keep in touch with Zhou and if that will happen, I am sure our friendship will be beneficial for both of us and will help me to understand more about the far away world of Asia.