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Thu, Jul 01, 2010
China Daily/Asia News Network
Culture gap for Chinese students in US

Overseas education may be not a good choice for some students, since they may not be able to adapt to psychological, cultural and language differences. Tan Yingzi in Washington and Lian Mo in Beijing report

Zhang Hengchu, from Shanghai, and Gu Yili, from Beijing, attend an elite private high school in Washington.

The two exchange Chinese students, both 18 years old and in the 11th grade, say that although they have no trouble with their academic workload, they have struggled to adapt to an American high school life outside the classroom.

Both speak fluent English, but say it has not been easy to fit in with their American peers, despite trying hard to do so.

"I don't get their way of talking," Gu says. "American high school students have their own language and culture. Sometimes I have no idea what they are talking about."

These difficulties are nothing new, according to John Flower, director of Chinese studies and global programs at Sidwell Friends School, the school Gu and Zhang attend.

"The social side is difficult for Chinese students," Flower says. "Like in any other private schools, many students here have known each other since they were 4-years-old and it is not easy for newcomers to get into their circles."

It's not just being new that creates a barrier between Chinese students studying overseas and their American classmates, but also cultural differences and the more prominent role sports, arts and other social extra-curricular activities have in socialization at US high schools, compared with Chinese high schools, which traditionally focus more heavily on academics.

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