NOTE: [See the English version below]
上星期上课主题是Cognitive bias，谈到cultural difference。来浅谈一下自己的感受。
我遇到好几次被路人问路，有英文不好的欧洲游客，或者是同样搞不懂伦敦地铁的外国人，以及不会用导航的老爷爷，一样在这边旅游。我用同样蹩脚的英文给他们指路，得到了好客气的“thank you lady”的答复，回头自己在路上乐个半天。
虽然念叨着life is similiar everywhere，但有时候也会在一些细节方面感受到异乡人的存在。
最近从covent garden搬家到vauxhall，晚上放学走路四十分钟回家（省公交钱！）。在waterloo的桥上吹着晚风，看River Tames两边的风景，一边是狗岛金融城现代化玻璃建筑的华灯初上，另一边是wisminster国会大厦和Big Ben传统建筑的富丽堂皇，觉得好美。
另一个印象，来源于我和课堂小组里一位德国同学的共识。我们一致同意这边的人很热情善良，至少表面上是和和气气的。大家会进门的时候帮你顶住门，又或者是在你找不到路时询问一句are you ok?
今天看到一个词，叫“discourse of excellent”，大概意思是说在一些精英化的机构里，大家不会对你的种族/性别等硬性条件有什么歧视，但会有能力上的隐性“鄙视链”。我深以为然。
(Warning: This article refers much more to my personal experience rather than the serious acedemic and conceptual discussion.)
The topic of last week's lecture was Cognitive bias, which also mentioned about the cultural difference. I would like to share some of my thought related to this theme based on my recent experience.
As an international student, I am often asked this question: "What do you think is the biggest difference between here and your homeland?".
In fact, just from the perspective of daily life, I think life is similar everywhere. As long as one can use vending machines and read maps, I believe he can survive here even if his English is poor.
Several times I have been asked for directions by passers-by, including European tourists with poor English, foreigners who is frustrated about the London Underground, and elders who can't use GPS navigation. I gave them directions using my broken English and got a very very polite "thank you lady" in reply. I was proud of myself at that time.
Although I think "life is similiar everywhere", sense of strangers can sometimes arose in some detail cases.
A few days ago, I read one of my friends' instagram post which she said she ate the juicy "small steamed bun"(a kind of Chinese dimsum) and the soup squirted in her hair. At that time I was dealing with my homework and stay up into midnight. My stomach began to scream uncontrolly.
If I say I can fit in here seamlessly, that must be my white lie to my parents. Language barriers, lifestyle changes, and being away from family and friends all make people vulnerable.
Once I had a viewing in far north of the city, and on the return trip I sat alone on a bench at the outdoor subway station, watching the long tracks stretch out into the dark distance. At that time I thought how capable and brave I was.
But my tears give me away when I see old photos, hear a familiar song, or crave the food of my hometown.
I reminded myself repeatedly to distinguish between "feeling vulnerable because I cravenly want to escape" and "simply missing", and tried hard to avoid the former.
Well, I think the obstacles are not only from different countries and cultures. I was taken care of too well in domestic universities before, with the care of which I don't need to rent a house by myself, and I don't have too much financial pressure. Now I am still struggling to look for a accomodation. The change of life style will also bring shock feeling.
I had just moved to vauxhall from covent garden, which takes me 40 minutes to walk home. Waliking on the Waterloo bridge, with a relaxing night breeze, and seeing the scenery on both sides of the river tames, which on one side is the modern glass building of the City, and the other side is the Westminster and Big Ben's traditional architecture.
This gives me a unique and romantic impression of the city, which is water-friendly.
In my hometown town, there is also a big river goes through the city, with small parks along the side. But the river of London is the road, the beautiful river road, the daily life of people walking by the river, the day hike cross the bridge is a small thing. In my hometown, the relationship between people and rivers is not that close.
Another impression comes from the consensus between me and a classmate in the classroom group. We agree that people here are warm and kind, at least on the surface they are amiable. Everyone will help you hold the door when you enter, or ask "are you ok" when you can't find your way.
But it's a little different at school. In class a few days ago, a few classmates and I waited at the door of the classroom for the classmates who had a class to come out. Nothing to do, so I began to talk about our course's coming eaasy with a classmate. Naturally, this topic attracted much attention, and soon another local student joined in the conversation. However, I found that speed of speech between them was getting faster and faster, and the words they used were getting more and more complicated. I can not fully understand and had to remain silent. At that time I did feel a little sad.
Today, I saw a word called "discourse of excellent" in an article, which means that in some elitist institutions, people will not discriminate against your race/gender and other hard conditions, but they will have a implicit "chain of contempt" in terms of ability. I was impressed.
I have no intention of labeling my classmates discriminatory, because I couldn't do better when I was in a familiar cultural environment in my homeland. But this transformation of identities made me reflect, to what extent is this ability-based discrimination justified?
On the one hand, competence can be a great indicator of your personal effort, and effort is respectable. So it's easy to equate the two and respect those who are capable. But in fact, there are many factors that affect the ability, material conditions, luck and talent...There is a problem of "equal access to opportunities". Besides, ability is difficult to measure comprehensively. Of course your English is certainly good, but my Chinese is not bad.
So after class, I happily rushed back to my small room by the river, made myself a fragrant dinner, and then turned on the computer to write some thoughts. I use these to keep my pride.
Finally, back to the topic of cultural differences, I often introduce myself by saying that I am experiencing cultural shock to some extent, but where exactly is the shock?
I thought about it for a long time and felt that it was due to the lack of cultural environment.
Basically, culture is the source of a sense of belonging. Life is not just about being able to buy things to cook and eat, and have a place to sleep.
When I visited Hong Kong to play, I want to lay flowers for Anita(one of my favourite Cantonese singers), and when I went to Xi'an, I also want to visit the ancient battlefield of the Three Kingdoms.
But when I came to the UK, I had no such thoughts at all. Instead, I am reminded of the damage this country has done to my homeland as a colonial empire.
Of course, this is not advocating ethnic hatred. One reason is that in my experience of education, I have learned more about the motherland, so I am deeply impressed by the difficult exploration process; and the introduction of foreign excellent culture is actually very little, even if there is, the cold theoretical introduction lacks the temperature of an overall cultural environment.
Last night and stay up to watch the drama In The Chamber Of Bliss, which describe the story of Cai E(a modern historical national hero who contributed a lot to the democratization process in China) and Xiao Fengxian(his legendary lover). The 20 episodes is not really long, with the interlocking and attracting narration, I stayed up all night to watch it. I think the flaws do not hide the beauty, and the whole series is still moving.
It's a very traditional story of a national hero dealing with all sorts of powers, mixed with romantic love story line. But thinking of modern Chinese history makes me somewhat emotional.
When I was still in the senior high school, I was impressed by a simple sentence about modern history in my history textbook. I specifically found the e-textbookand the sentence is "During more than a century, China has experienced political ups and downs and social and cultural changes, and the nation has gone through hardships and carried out arduous exploration and struggle, finally bringing light to a suffering China." Objective and concise, but if you think about it carefully, there is too much bitterness and sorrow behind it. I may be a little sentimental, but it's still moving to read it again.
This reminds me of the history class in high school. When my teacher talked about the French Revolution, he commented that we have seen the numerous changes in the French Revolution, but when we looked at modern China, our exploration and suffering were no less than theirs. Hearing this, the class burst into applause. If I have any initial desire for social sciences, this is where my initial desire lies.
I saw an article while visiting other people’s blogs a few days ago, in which the author expressed his thoughts about his former teachers,at the end of the article he said: "The above are my memories of my junior high school teachers and some of my classmates 20 years ago with all my strength to recall. Nothing can move and impress people more than time: how many thirty or forty years are there in a man's life? These teachers have been teaching in those countrysides for 30 or 40 years. They are the real heroes of the world, and we these so-called outstanding students should feel ashamed of ourselves. we flew out of the countryside and lived our own comfortable lives without giving back to our hometown. Every time I'm in a hurry when I return home. I just hope I can have a chance to visit my teachers next time."
I just miss my teachers.
I also think of the difficult opening process of China in modern times. It was very difficult when the first batch of international students went abroad. Now it is actually much easier for us. There are a certain number of Chinese overseas, working and renting houses... It is also easy to find compatriots here, as well as a large number of Chinese supermarkets and restaurants. This scene is not built in a day, and there are a lot of hardships behind it.
Searching for the history of the TV series on youtube today, I found a comment in which someone said: "Cai E and Huang Xing were both buried on Mount Yuelu in the end. When I was young, I would walk past their graves when climbing that mountain, but I don't know their stories. Now that I know they are great men, my hometown is thousands of miles away. I don't know when I can go back."
It goes right to my heart. I have visited Mount Yuelu twice, but I came and went in a hurry and didn't pay much attention to the historic sites along the way. Now that I know the details of those history and characters for the first time, I am so touched, but that's all what I can do.
I miss my country as well.
But in fact, after paying attention to some domestic news, releated to pandemic and politics, I feel really sad. I read a poem before which said, "Hometown is only true in dreams." Now I really understand and agree with this sentence.
Video chatting with my old bachelor friends, I didn't think I would miss it at all until I saw the scene of familiar college campus on the video. May(Meiyi) and I were aborad, we kept crying, laughing and holding back our tears. I can not even clearly figure out what exact thing we miss s much.
I think people are products of culture in some extent. And I just wonder if I will also miss it when I think of various adventures in the UK in the future?