An Introduction To Diverse Chinese Culture
Living for just shy of a decade in one of the world’s biggest countries can have its effects on people. For me, it opened my eyes to how diversity is such a beautiful and important thing. Especially the diverse Chinese culture.
Born in the same continent as China, one forgets just how big the world is. I grew up within the localities and the different cultures of South Asia. As you might be familiar with, the region is bustling with people from all walks of life. The influences of different areas, when combined with the local culture, make for a hybrid culture within itself. This mixed culture includes things, practices, and routines native to you and your experiences.
I opted to go to a Chinese university for university, wanting to study the medical field. I chose the Medical Uuniversity in Nanjing, the capital of China’s eastern Jiangsu province. Here, I spent the majority of 8 full years connected to the diverse Chinese culture and the life that China offered me.
The Challenges I Faced in the Diverse Chinese Culture
In my first year, it was hard. The language barrier was more than what I had anticipated. Even grocery runs proved challenging. I could not bargain during my first few months, and I think the locals caught wind of that very soon, hahaha.
Before I knew it, I spent more than my local classmates when I bought fruits from the local vendors. So, I finally I enrolled myself in Chinese language classes. If I had to spend the following years of my time in this country, I had to get used to the language.
The Chinese language is hard to learn initially-- I can bear witness to that, especially if you come from speaking British or American English. Just knowing the language opened my eyes to the diverse Chinese culture in the country. The Chinese characters, the different pronunciations, and everything else. They were all so different yet so simple. I will admit that it took me some time to hang it. I still remember how we never thought to say ‘Xi’ and ‘Shi.’ This was the norm here in China.
I passed my first language exam and finally started finding my way around where I lived. I made friends all across the world. Most importantly, I made friends who were Chinese but were completely different from other Chinese people. The way they led their lives, and the way they practiced their religion was completely different.
Diversity: Like a Bowl of Porridge
The more I mingled in a group of culturally diverse individuals, the more I understood how deep the diverse Chinese culture ran. Diversity is truly one of the most beautiful things in the world, and there is so much to learn from one another. For example, take a simple dish of porridge—a simple, modest meal. Now let me tell you, porridge from Northern China tastes completely different. The same goes for the south. These additions to something as simple as a bowl of porridge should explain what significance culture holds. Diversity, of course, must still persistently be applied more widely.
Diversity: An Anecdote from My Time in China
While studying in China, I acquainted myself with the local vendors. Our interactions became much smoother now that I could converse with them. There was nothing better than the stories they would tell from their lives. One vendor selling me a fresh crate of mangoes (from Pakistan) would always tell me the tales from his home. He fondly told me how his grandmother would use 4 kilos of ginger every two days in the winter for soups. He said she did it to keep her family warm and keep the common cold away from their family.
This simple anecdote stuck with me even today. I look back on this interaction with so much joy and happiness. You do not understand how special a moment is while it is happening. Now, being a mother of 2 myself, I know the significance of my interactions.
It was such a simple tale that the vendor told me. Because of him, every time winter comes around, I make homemade soup and make sure to add ginger. Knowing how he and his family enjoy this every winter to keep warm and healthy makes me feel inspired to do the same.
The Significance of The Diverse Chinese Culture
The diverse Chinese culture is truly a unique matter. Having lived in it myself, I know now that there is not a lot like it. The respect young ones have for elders, the way religious festivals are observed. Rarely have I seen this being followed anywhere in the world.
We live in a world that thinks of diversity as a bad thing. Unfortunately, we are taught to fear everything we do not know. This is why countries, especially in the West, are against immigrants. They are scared that immigrants will bring their own culture and their land will no longer be theirs. To this, I would like to add: learning about other people and their ways of life can only benefit you. one can never know everything.
There is a very famous quote: “If you are the smartest person in the room, go to another room.” This is the mindset we need to have in the world right now. Instead of rejecting diversity, embrace it. Who knows? Maybe you might be able to keep your family warm and healthy in the winter while doing so.
I hope you liked this article. Diversity is a huge deal currently, and I hope this article helped you see just how important it is. Check out this article to learn more about dumplings and their significance. To learn more about the Chinese lifestyle and work culture, check this article about The Toxic Work Culture of China.
Edited by: Syed Umar Bukhari.