Reasons for Chinese International Students to Mingle With Themselves

Week 10
Qinyu Lyu
Big Picture Blog Post


Being a part of this society, everyone has more than one identity. For me, I identify
myself as “daughter,” “only child,” “Chinese international student,” “listener,” “foodie,”
“college student,” “culture mixer.” Among all of my identities, I chose “Chinese International student” to do my research on. It is because studying in the United States
for three years as a Chinese student, I have noticed that Chinese students are not always depicted as positive images. For example, Americans think Chinese only mingle
with themselves because they do not want to come out of their comfort zone. As one part of this group, I do think it is a phenomenon existing in the college of the United States. However, as I did more and more research, I found out that there is a reason behind, which it is the difference between cultures of these two countries.

First, Chinese like to hang out with together because of their common interests and
language. In an article called “The Role of Person-Culture Fit in Chinese Students’
Cultural Adjustment in the United States: A Galileo Mental Model Approach” by Lin
Zhu, the author, used a Galileo multidimensional scaling model to explain the impact of
intercultural experience has on Chinese students. According to this article, the amount
of intercultural communication had a significant effect on person-culture fit, in turn
affecting sojourners’ adaptation outcomes. I related this article to a video I have found
as my primary resource made by a group of Chinese students. It profiled three Chinese
students at Smith College and their challenges finding right places for themselves
between China and the United States these two cultures. In this video, when the first
Chinese student mentioned her interests in Japanese culture and Asian culture in
general; she said she had more common topics and interests with people that had
Asian background, but she did not have that much to say with American students at
school because they did not have much in common. Although she came to United States when she was in high school, she did not find herself a big fan in this society so she could not find the sense of belonging here. Another Chinese student in this video explained a critical reason for Chinese students to always hang out with each other together, which is the language people speak and the familiarity of that language directly impact their passion of engagement in the conversation. She said it was hard for
her to engage in the conversation when she spoke English actively. She felt she was two people when she talked in English and Chinese.

I relate myself to both details above I have found in this video. For the first one, I have
the same feelings in the United States, people are accommodating and friendly, but
because we have been growing up in entirely different cultural backgrounds, we always
have different interest focused. One example could be in class when someone made
an American joke that related to its culture; everyone would laugh hardly except we
Chinese students. Also, when Chinese students sit down at the table with Americans,
just like the girl said, we do not have that much to talk about because our attentions are
on different things. When people are talking about American TV shows or things that
are prevalent in American social media, I could not participate that kind of conversation
because I have not paid much attention to those. I am also a big fan of Asian culture,
which brought me a lot of Korean friends after coming here, but I do not develop deep
relationships with local students. At the same time, I also found myself different when I
speak English; I think the language is not only the language but also the reflection of the
way you think, because of the altered expression of feelings and logical management,
I tend to use a different way to think in English as well as speak. So when even I do not
do that on purpose, I still show different characteristics when I speak English and Chinese. Language is a significant way to express myself; I believe it is also a big reason for many international students especially Chinese to hang out together.

Second, Chinese students like to stay as a group because they are facing the same
challenges that might only be understood by themselves. In an article called “Different is
not deficient: contradicting stereotypes of Chinese international students in US higher education” by Tang T. Heng, the author did a survey which is to follow 18 Chinese students studying in the United States for one year to see how they deal with sociocultural contexts and change over time. He exhibited his finds such as the communication styles, expectations from schools, the balance between play and work
and so on between these two cultures to illustrate that the misusing of inquiry methods may cause a lot of misunderstanding of Chinese students. I also found a short film talking about three things challenging Chinese students, which was housing, group project, and networking. Its purpose is to show the real challenges Chinese students will face when they decide to go to another country to live and study. At both the beginning and end of the film, those three students stay together, eating delicious food, taking selfies and shopping, which seems they are pleased and satisfied with their life. Especially when at the end, when one girl is asked how she is doing in finding an internship there, she answers with a smile:” It goes well.” However, in the previous story about her, she experiences a disappointing conversation with a prominent business person, the person tells her that 99% of international students failed to find jobs in the U.S. because they can never be one part of Americans.

It seems that the beginning as well as the ending which depicts the happy life for all those three Chinese students contradict the three divided stories talked. However, they are not in paradox at all. In reality, a lot of Chinese students like to pretend to live a good life, and everything goes well no matter regarding academic performance or internship finding. But behind, they are usually suffering from many horrible pains in many aspects. One reason is that they do not want their families and friends to worry about them. Another reason could be because everyone is hiding/herself and tries to show that they are living fancy life, it leads others to be not willing exhibit their pain outside, which might indicate they are losers in this country.

Third, Chinese students prefer to stay in their community because of their patriotism. In
an article called ”Patriotism Abroad- Overseas Chinese Students’ Encounters With
Criticisms of China” by Henry Chiu Hail, The author, talks about the reasons that lead to
cross-culture conflicts between Chinese students and Americans. According to the research, this cross-culture conflict does not only come from cultural misunderstanding,
differences in values, or lack of language ability, but also occurs as part of a struggle to
defend the national reputation and assert loyalty to one’s nation within the context of a
Perceived hierarchy of nations. Most Chinese students show their patriotism to them
Country by not willing to accept opinions from the westerners based on the bias. They
feel tightly connecting to their country, and they want to be respected by respecting their
country first.

I also found a new article called “Chinese Students in the U.S. Fight a ‘Biased’ View of
Home” by Shaila Dewan; in this article, the author talks about how Chinese students are
against Dalai Lama who said Tibet is not part of China, by listing things happened in several colleges that Chinese students had done, such as trying to limit his address to
non-political topics and throwing plastic bottle towards monks. He also displays opinions
from different Chinese on Chinese politics and the way western media present them. Many Americans think this phenomenon of Chinese students is mainly because they got brainwashed by the Chinese government. I don’t agree with this point because Tibet does not develop itself by refusing to take resources and beneficial policies provided by the Chinese government. Just like the Chinese student from the University of Southern California said, the history is the best evidence, for ancient Chinese emperor did grant Dalai Lama his title. Before I came to the United States, people always have a conversation about the transparency of Western media. However, after I came here, what I have noticed is not all western media is reporting negatively about China, but some of them to focus on things that they believe have something to do with the “human rights.” The exciting thing is, under the globalization of information, nowadays Chinese media does report the same stuff as the Western press does, the only difference would be the perspectives of their opinions.

In conclusion, it seems that Chinese students do not want to pay any effort in being involved in this country and the American community. The fact is, the common interests,
language, the understanding of challenges faced by this particular group as well as their
patriotism and loyalty to their country, which brings them the sense of belonging, all
become reasons for them to stay in their Chinese student’s community. As a result, it is
the cultural differences between the United States and China lead to the stereotypical
image of Chinese international students studying in the United States on current social
media, which is to only mingle with themselves.

Work Cited

Heng, Tang T. “Different Is Not Deficient: Contradicting Stereotypes of Chinese
International Students in US Higher Education.” Studies in Higher Education, vol. 43,
no. 1, 2018, pp. 22–36.

Zhu, Lin, et al. “The Role of Person-Culture Fit in Chinese Students’ Cultural Adjustment
in the United States: a Galileo Mental Model Approach.” Human Communication
Research, vol. 42, no. 3, 2016, p. 485.

Hail, Henry Chiu. “Patriotism Abroad.” Journal of Studies in International Education, vol.
19, no. 4, 2015, pp. 311–326.

Staff, Tea Leaf Nation. “Watch: Chinese Students in America Try to Find Meaning, and
Fit In.” Foreign Policy, Foreign Policy, 4 Aug. 2016,

Yang, Yung Jen. “Study Abroad – Whole Film 《我们留学生》正片.” YouTube,
YouTube, 3 Feb. 2015,
Dewan, Shaila. “Chinese Students in the U.S. Fight a ‘Biased’ View of Home.” New York
Times (1923-Current File), 29 Apr. 2008, p. A1.

5 thoughts on “Reasons for Chinese International Students to Mingle With Themselves

  1. Hi Qinyu,
    I really like the points you mentioned in this article. As an international student from Taiwan, I can easily relate to the barriers between Asian and American societies. I also think language is an important point since it’s difficult to show the exact same expression in different languages. And since people grow up with totally different cultural backgrounds, and perceive different media in different societies, I think it’s normal if people tend to hang out with friends who have similar cultural backgrounds. However, I’ve also seen both Asian or American are very into another culture, and they blend in very well. I personally encountered an American student talking with me speaking fluent Chinese, and I was really surprised by that. I guess if people are focusing on certain cultures a lot, then they can better blend into the societies.

    Great work!

  2. Hey Qinyu, this was a very informative blog, thank you so much. I am Chinese-American, but i was born in the United States and know little about my Chinese culture outside of speaking with family. I actually do not find it all that strange that international students would be more comfortable spending time together. Everyone feels more comfortable, and has more in common with people that share the same interests, cultural values, and are fluent in the same first language. This is not to say that you cannot be friends with people that differ in any or all of these things, but i do understand how it is easier intially. Very interesting blog, thank you for sharing!

  3. HI Qinyu,
    Your post was thoughtful and interesting. I also come from a different background than what we usually see in America. Assimilating to a new country can be very hard and cause in-betweenness from your culture. You’ll always want to be around people that look like you and have the same background as you. I’m pretty sure many people experience this. It’s not good to always stay in your shell thoough. It takes time to loosen up and get comfortable in your new place.

  4. Qinyu,
    I thought your post was very interesting. One thing that really stood out to me is that you said international students tend to spend more time together. I dont think its weird at all. As a football player at portland state, I tend to hang with football players because they know how things are, and how tough things can get. Overall, great paper.

  5. Hi Qinyu,
    I see many improvements on your final blog post and I really enjoyed reading it. I think your thesis is now very solid and straightforward as well as the way you relate your secondary sources to support your argument is very effective. I found it was a little confusing at first when I read your draft but now you made all clear. Great job on the final post!

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