Ever since I was little I have always loved to travel. As I grew older I knew that I wanted to make sure that no matter what career I chose in the future – it would need to involve travelling! Travel for me isn’t just about visiting the tourist highlights; it is about immersing myself in the culture.
When I graduated from university, I decided to embark on one of the biggest adventures of my life, I packed my bags and left the UK to go and teach in China. It was a big step, but I knew it was the right choice. Being in China has been a learning experience and from the moment my plane landed in China I was hit with the realisation that China is very different from the UK. The two cultures are completely different in many ways, yet as time has gone by I have begun to appreciate these differences and learn more about this interesting new culture.
I have been living in China for about two months now and every day has been a new adventure. One of the biggest differences between the two countries is that sometimes in China plans can be quite unsystematic, in comparison to the structured, regimented, British way of life.
In China it is not uncommon to be asked to participate in an event last minute, or for plans to change unexpectedly. For example, recently a fellow teacher invited me to deliver a spontaneous introduction speech to a room of 250 students. As you can imagine, initially this cultural difference was difficult to comprehend, especially since in the UK most appointments are set a week in advance!
However once you adapt to the Chinese lifestyle and accept that in China no plan is definite and that everything can change suddenly, you begin to relax more. Even though sometimes plans change, the task is still completed (most of the time). These differences are not bad, and in fact have led to experiences that have helped me develop many different skills, including public speaking.
I am constantly reminded of the many unique and wonderful aspects of China, which never fail to amaze me, such as the overcrowded buses, the lights of the city, the kindness of strangers and of course the ‘change of plan’! These differences are what make China such an interesting place and make this new experience so exciting! It is these differences that remind me I am living my international dream – I am doing exactly what I love to do!
Have you ever experienced cultural differences?