A New Year of Culture Shock

After witnessing twenty two New Years celebrations, I have decided that celebrating the New Year is pretty pointless. Why do we celebrate a new year but not a new month or week or day? Some might say, “You lived through another year, you should celebrate!” If that is the case should you not celebrate every morning when you wake up? God gave me another day to live, praise Him! Can I start the morning off with some champagne and fireworks…most likely not. Living by social norms is so boring isn’t it?

New years resolutions are probably the most annoying thing about all of it. I am pretty sure the tradition of a new year’s resolution was made so people could feel better about themselves. It’s a new year I am going on diet, I am going to start running, I am going to spend less money, or I am not going to watch as much T.V. That is great until month four rolls around and you are back to being a broke lazy glutton. I find it funny when someone makes a more or less life changing, or highly altering choice, just because some random day like January 1st rolls around. If you really want to start losing weight or stop being so lazy you will make that choice based on your own personal convictions on whatever day they tend to arise. People wonder why they always fail at keeping a new year’s resolution. Well maybe if you actually wanted to keep it in the first place, because you realized in your heart that there was something wrong that needed fixed, you would. And maybe it would help if you didn’t make a ridiculous resolution like, “I’m going to run five miles a day and only watch thirty minutes of T.V. a week, just because today in January 1st”. My friend Brea made a resolution, last year, not to eat French fries. She didn’t go on an all out diet or decided to exercise for ten hours a day. She decided to do something small and easy. I was with her when 2008 was officially over and she could eat French fries again, we were here:

Actually, we were in a McDonalds close to that, which is the Hong Kong harbor, but that is beside the point. The thing is, she accomplished her goal because it wasn’t something she did just because it was the New Year. Her choice in not eating French fries was not made to impress other people or just to feel good about knowing she made a new year’s resolution. To sum up 400 words, if you really want to do something don’t wait around, make the initiative to do it and get it done. Also, don’t make a new years resolution just because everyone else is and you think you might impress someone. You won’t.

For the first time, this Christmas break, I experienced culture shock. I was able to visit China for two weeks over the break and it was quite the experience. I’m sure when you think of China, you might think of the Olympics in Beijing, Yao Ming, and the Great Wall or you might think of the U.S. buying 321.5 billion dollars worth of imports from China, the communist revolution of 1945-49, or maybe the significance of the Han dynasty. Either way, everyone has preconceived notions and ideas of China, or anywhere or anything for that matter.

Before I went, I had my own preconceived notions and ideas of China as well. Little did I know, they would be blown out of the water and once again I would be forced to accept my ignorance of the world. In a “small” city roughly the size of Houston, you would expect sky scrapers, bustling crowds of pedestrians, and a constant excess of noise right? For about two weeks I was in a city that, on average, has about as much noise pollution as Canyon does. Looking out over the city you might see something like this:

Or if you look out from the window of the hotel room I stayed in you might see this:

Or of course, you might come into contact with a random mountain jutting out of the ground in the middle of a group of buildings, such as this:

Since there are eighteen college campuses in the city I went to, the majority of my time was spent on a college campus like this one:

Or this one:

We talked a couple times in a classroom but most of the time was spent just hanging out on campus meeting students. Whether it was playing ping pong outside in the thirty degree weather,

Watching badminton inside,

Or attending class with new Chinese friends

we were slowly immersed into Chinese culture and a very different way of life. Even though the food might be a little different

and the language is unspeakable as well as unreadable,

the friends I made in China are very much like the friends I have here in the state. It didn’t matter if I was playing Counter Strike with some guys in a LAN café

or sipping tea while looking over one of the four lakes in the city,

I realized no matter where you are in the world, people still have hopes, desires, ambitions, they still laugh, they still cry, they still feel joy, they still feel pain, and probably most important of all they have a life full of very different experiences that you can learn from if you stop thinking about yourself for five minutes and open your mind to a world outside of your own.

If you remember, earlier in this post, I mentioned how I experienced culture shock. The thing is, being in China did not bring about the culture shock. The irony is, the culture shock came when I left. Although that statement might be confusing, ill explain it in another post at another time so keep checking the blog to read more!

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