East vs West
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Cultural Differences: Eastern And Western Travel Culture

Australia: A Land Of Travelers

In Australia, travel is considered a rite of passage, and almost a human right.

As a nation built on immigrants, everybody born in Australia is likely to have had parents who migrated from overseas.

In order for Australian-born kids to have our privileged lives, our parents had to begin with a hard life, escaped that hard life, and started a new life in another land.

So, travel is a story common to all Australian households.  Because of this, Australians traditionally are open-minded to travels overseas.

China: A Land Of Mercantile Households

China, on the other hand, does not have this culture of travel.

Chinese decisions traditionally are wedded to mercantile benefit.  “If I can spend one dollar to make ten dollars, I will spend one dollar.”  However, in China, the head of the household makes the decisions for the family, planning the livelihoods of their children, using money.

“I will send my one child to America for four years to acquire a better education.  When he returns I will arrange a stable job in an international company in our local city where our relatives already work, and find him a wife in a few years so he can have our grandchildren.”

That would be a typical investment.

Second Generation Chinese Immigrants

This is a common story repeated over and over in Australia, rich second generation Chinese kids (富二代) coming with no work experience, and millions of dollars granted by their parents to invest in their children’s quality Australian education.

Australian Second Generation Welfare

In Australia, children are eligible for Youth Allowance from 16 years old and can receive up to $1080 AUD per month (5,400 RMB per month) in government benefits to look for work or to study.

3,000 RMB per month is the average income an uneducated, unqualified worker in China would earn per month.

Therefore, the same financial pressures in China do not exist in Australia, and Australian kids do not feel any pressure to follow the decisions of their parents, because the financial support often comes from the government, so children are free to make independent decisions about their future goals.

Countryside China

In China, however, there are millions of poor families who live in the countryside and have neither financial or travel options available.

Recently, a friend on a work drill (培训) visited me in Guangzhou.

She painted a very traditional picture of herself being a young girl that came to Guangzhou to live with her two sisters so that she could study.

When she graduated at 22 years old, she went back to her hometown to live with her parents while her sister got married and stayed in Guangzhou.  Ever since then she has worked in Zhanjiang (湛江).

Her life in Zhanjiang now is very involved with her job.

“I have to do two jobs in Zhanjiang (湛江).  One job, the work is good but the salary (薪资) is too low (太低), so I have to get a second job to make enough money to work.”

In a traditional sense, she relies on work to give her some kind of value in life.  “My work can teach me things that I never would have been able to experience by myself.  I go to drills (培训) so I can learn more about myself.  My boss helps me with everything I want to learn.”

What she was trying to say is that she wants to learn about life.

Planting The Seed Of Freedom

I am thinking, when I look at her life and the path that she is traveling on, it looks really bleak.  It looks like she is going to live and die being a traditional girl close to her mother, probably never getting married, until she is urged to get married, and have kids.  That is going to be her whole life.  That is a bit of a waste.

Her thinking is very traditional.

I was trying to give her advice, but I thought, “If I tell her to marry a rich guy, that is probably the wrong advice, because a rich guy would not teach her to independently go out and learn things.  She is only going to learn things through this rich man, and through his money.  Then she can experience life.”

She is also doing the same thing through her work.  She is learning about life through these seminars where people tell her how to be rich.

But, I am looking at her fresh from this super event where the multi-millionaire speaker animatedly motivated the audience, but she is still meek, still quiet, and her talk is still not ambitious.

Espousing Travel

So, I told her, “If you really want to experience things for yourself, go and travel.  Because when you travel, you are independent, and you get to meet a whole lot of different people in life that you would never have imagined meeting if you had stayed in China.”

“You can bump into different cultures.  That is another way to open up your mind.  Then you will learn a lot more things about life than what you could through your work, or through a multi-millionaire.”

She said, “If I do that, I have to save money.  加油!  I have to save money!  I will save money and try to travel.”

She keeps saying 加油.

I said, “You know the Australian passport will let you go to 100 countries for free.  You don’t need a visa.  Entry into the country is visa free.  But the Chinese passport, you practically cannot go to any country unless you have 50,000 RMB in the bank.”

She stressed, “But I don’t want to move to another country.  I want to stay close to my mom.  I always want to see my mom every day.”

I said, “You can talk to your mom on Skype.”

She said, “It is not the same.”

That is so filial (孝顺).

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