by Phong Ly
JMC 54 Writer
Hongbo Zhang, a senior in Actuarial Science at Drake University, has been in America since his freshman year of high school. He admitted he still misses the food back in China. “I was able to find some good Chinese restaurants here in the U.S, but they are still not exactly the same like what we have in China,” Zhang said.
Zhang is a Drake International student from Beijing, China. Before coming to Drake, he went to a local high school in Wichita, Kansas. He said he had a hard time adjusting to the different culture of America throughout his first and second year of high school. Zhang was having a hard time with speaking English, and the fact that his high school did not have any Chinese students at the time did not help.
“That was a very hard time for me, but only after a year or so it wasn’t a huge problem anymore since I became more fluent,” Zhang said.
According to Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) website, people of China speak Mandarin, but they have multiple dialects. Putonghua is the official dialect but mostly spoken by people in the Northern parts of China like Beijing, while Cantonese is the dialect Southern people use. Therefore, it not uncommon for two people to both speak Mandarin and do not understand each other.
Chit Ying Susanne Chan, a friend of Zhang and a sophomore at Drake, thought that the differences between many regions of China is what makes the culture so fascinating. Chan is from Hong Kong, where people speak Cantonese. She said she knows how to speak Putonghua too, but enjoys speaking in Cantonese occasionally just to mess with Zhang and some of her other Northern China friends.
Chan also shared that beside the variety in their language, people from the North and the South also have a different preference in what they eat. According to her, Northern Chinese like to have noodles and buns for most of their meals. They also like their food sweet, even for savory dishes. On the other hand, Southern Chinese like to have rice and less sweet in their food.
“That’s the reason why people call the Shanghai – Suzhou area the hometown of rice,” Chan said.
Chan also did not think that Chinese people are “rude” and “unfriendly” like most people think. She said she would understand if some people would feel that way towards Chinese.
“Like where I come from, Hong Kong, it is very crowded and people are always so busy, so they walk faster than Americans and that is the reason why they might not hold the door for you like most Americans do,” Chan said. “But if you ask for help, they would try their best to help you or direct you to a place or a person they know who could help you. That is just their way to be nice!”