Chinese and Western Study Methods
The Sophomore Experience
The back story goes; I met 12 Chinese girls all in their sophomore year over an impromptu English class. We all exchanged numbers. Those initial conversations normally determine whether a Chinese person while star-struck in the presence of a foreigner seized the moment with no intention to pursue a genuine relationship (早有预谋), or whether they had the nous to make connections with Westerners.
One girl that I met at the sophomore class, we almost deleted each other on WeChat. We got angry with each other because of this common misconception. But, then we started to talk to each other again.
So, to smooth things over I offered her work.
She said she would be willing to work, but she is busy to spend time to prepare for some examinations in the following month, because once her next semester begins, she will face two major examinations.
“I do not dare be lazy in study,” she said.
Chinese Tunnel Vision
Her comments gave me some insight into her reasons.
I have witnessed from thousands of interactions how Chinese people are very robotic in their actions. In front of these sophomore girls they only have study to do, and behave like robots when it comes to studying, and do nothing extraneous outside of study.
The study culture in Australia is different.
Thinking outside the box is a major difference in the decisions Australian people make in the importance given to study, and how Australian decisions underpin our carefree culture.
In Australia, we value not just study, but preparing yourself for the workforce. It is not good to anyone if all you do for four years is to study for an exam, and then when the time comes to work, you don’t know what to do because you never thought about utilizing these skills in a workplace environment. Business favors experience over inexperience.
The Business-Study Approach
Many students in Australia build a business in the second or third year in order to supplement their study with real-life experience.
I built my own business presence, created business cards, obtained business customers, and each week I would learn new business-orientated principles and put them into practice in the business. So, when it came to graduating, I already had my own business and already started to receive my own clients. This is a common practice of Australian students to develop a business or work in their field of study alongside their education.
If I did not do that, and only studied, and only tried to be the best student with a 99.9% score, then I would miss out on the opportunity to be an experienced worker and develop a distinguished career.
Tunnel Vision In Chinese Life
But this tunnel-vision exists as the cultural reality in China. And it is not limited only to study.
Once study has been completely exhausted of its focus, then one has to completely devote themselves to their job. Then their focus will turn on finding a boyfriend to get married so that the family can have children. Then they have to take care of their parents in old age. This is the traditional line of thinking.
I have witnessed for myself when a Chinese person enters a sudden vacuum of free time between conquests, they become completely embroiled in finding the next step, and once found, they become fixated on their next conquest. This is a very brief window of time.
So, when I hear that these girls cannot do anything else except for to focus intensely on their next examination, and they can’t even fit in some socials or extracurricular work to supplement their learning, in the eyes of a Westerner, it seems a shame how Chinese society has segregated itself away from opportunity.
One cannot see the worm for the meal it is if absorbed watching the worm wriggle.
One cannot see the dangers of the snake while hypnotized by its dance.
The author of Diary Of A Mad Chaos from 1996 to 2018, The Lost Years book, Wubao In China (猎艳奇缘) book series, and Foreigner (华人) an exploration of race relations in Australia. Fluent in Chinese Mandarin, Macedonian, and English, the author currently resides in China, Guangzhou where he continues to make comparative analysis of the cultural differences between Eastern and Western societies.