Hi, my name is Oscar and I have been an exchange student in Jinan for about 4 months now. China is different in many ways from Sweden and this is noticed in all aspects of my daily life. There are many things that can produce a culture shock but I had my mind open to avoid such a thing. There are people everywhere, which are sometimes hard to get used to since in Sweden the cities have a much smaller population. At my arrival to the Jinan airport I was greeted by a friendly man waiting to pick me up. I was taken to my apartment and the next day an international coordinator took me and my Swedish classmate out to dinner. The next days we were shown around the campus, we were taken to shopping centers to get some daily accessories.
The Chinese foods are very different from the Chinese restaurants in Sweden, there is a much bigger variation and the price is usually 3 times less for most foods. Also there is the chopsticks issue but I learned to fix that one quickly. The food issue is not that bad if you just use your eyes. You can easily get a culture shock when you eat in restaurants. What I consider weird in Sweden, like heads, feet and parts of an animal are sometimes the best parts to eat.
One of the first things that you notice is that there are a lot of people looking at you. What I’ve learned is that the Chinese people are very curious about you, especially if you look different. Although sometimes it has gotten a little weird to get the same reactions every day, they are very friendly and understanding if confronted. If I would take a trip around the campus, there would always be students who wanted to communicate. It’s common for the students to take the opportunity to talk with a foreigner; they really want to practice English and to learn more about me. Since I did not know much Chinese, I quickly grew into the pattern of buying foods only at restaurants or in convenience stores eating alone.
After some time though I found some student friends who are more than happy to help me with whatever I need. Most of the students live inside the campus walls, so most of our activities were very close to the school, with some small trips into the center of the city. Almost all the students eat at the very cheap but good school restaurants inside the campus. The Chinese students don’t have much time and money to go out and eat or travel and I do not really want to travel alone – so the result was that I did not travel much. Most of my travels were arranged by other people. If you get outside the tall buildings of the city, the nature is beautiful. China has a very rich history, so there are a lot of old monuments that are worth seeing. I’ve only seen a fraction of this, but what I have seen is good.