It is a commonly known fact that the culture of a country is its true depiction of its people. While cultures, norms, and values differ across boundaries and nations, they are often the distinguishing factor that sets them apart. Taking time out to study different cultures, therefore, is not a futile attempt at understanding the customs and practices of a nation.
The Chinese and United States cultures are poles apart when it comes to examining the different aspects of values and norms. Although a few similarities do exist between the two, the differences are profound and clear, affecting the way of life and business.
Opting to go abroad for higher education or to do an internship is a culturally inspiring experience. When a person chooses to move from America to China for at least for a year, he will experience many differences. However, the good news is that Chinese and American cultures aren’t completely different from each other.
The Importance of Individuality in American and Chinese Culture
The United States of America features a country of individuals depending upon love to maintain their individuality. One of the major cultural differences between China and the United States is the sense of individuality and separate identity that is missing in the Chinese culture. Having an individual and separate sense of purpose is generally glowered upon in the Chinese culture. Take, for instance, the Chinese and American workplaces. In the U.S., assigning a remarkable deal for a corporation can be celebrated as an individual accomplishment. But in China, big achievements are considered as an accomplishment of the whole company.
Socializations in China and the US
Time is the most significant element when it comes to conducting business dealings anywhere in the world. However, Chinese people generally put more emphasis on time management and are individuals who prefer punctuality. China is also famous in terms of its attitude towards networking and socialization. The difference between Chinese and U.S. cultures lies in the way their people socialize and interact with each other. While the Chinese put a great emphasis on building long-term interaction with their business partners, this socialization in the U.S. is much more momentary and short-lived. This may be due to the fact that the Chinese tend to acquire a possible acquaintance’s trust in their dealings. Though there is no fixed length of time for socializing, it cannot be denied that the harsher elements of doing business cannot take place without interactive and proper networking.
The Difference of Hierarchy
One of the prominent differences between American and Chinese culture is the difference in the way they perceive hierarchy. In China, it is almost unheard of by anyone that an entry-level staff is interacting with the CEO of the company, even if they share the same workspace. Opening workplaces in a bid to encourage reduced hierarchy barriers is a thing of the West only and doesn’t truly exist in China. It is important to keep this in mind when moving from Chinese to U.S. culture, otherwise, it would give the impression that different members of the same office are being deliberately rude to each other.
The Classroom Environment
The majority of American schools consist of a very relaxed and comfortable classroom environment than Chinese schools, but teachers are respected and are seen as professionals in both of the states. While teaching or learning in a Chinese school, it’s common to see apprentices raising their hands for asking questions. Additionally, students are taught to stand as well when teachers enter the classroom. This shows that the environment in the classroom in Chinese schools is much strict than in the schools in the U.S where open interaction and dialogue are encouraged.
Conflict Management and Resolution
In China, people avoid all kinds of conflicts and useless fights. A foreigner visiting China would easily notice that Chinese won’t raise an issue directly with another Chinese who has left him feeling aggrieved. This is a major difference between the cultures of the two top countries of the world. Chinese people understand that conflicts are unnecessary and need to be resolved, unlike the Americans who may take time to resolve conflicts.
The Support for the Elderly
In the United States of America, it is very common to move the elders of the family to spend their last years of retirement in old homes where they are supported in the care of professionals. As opposed to Americans, Chinese people put greater emphasis on family bonding, treating the elders of their family with love and respect.
In China, grandparents are well respected and much more likely to be cared for by the family home as well. Consequently, the concept of moving parents to old houses is discouraged by the Chinese culture. Another of the differences between Chinese and American culture which plays a role in supporting elderly family members is that it is considered strange for Chinese families to move hundreds of miles away from each other. On the other hand, people of America may travel from state to state for educational purposes or doing work and will also prefer to settle there for the rest of their lives.
The Difference in Spending of Money
Many Chinese households see money as something to be treasured. They will go out of their way to reserve their finances for absolute essentials, such as education and repairs around the home. Owning the latest clothes, gadgets, and cosmetics is considered less important, whereas in the United States there is a great demand for modern things. Any person doing an internship in China, therefore, should follow his new friends’ leads and start saving his money for the home.
Eating out in the U.S. vs China:
Going out for dinner in some other countries may not feel unusual because of the differences in culture and cuisine. In China, it’s very common for everyone to pay the bill and then give tips to the staff. In most cases, if it is not done then it is considered to be rude. On the other hand, when a person invites someone out for dinner in America it is obvious that the host will be the one paying the bill. But tipping the service staff is not necessary.
The Last Word
Culture, norms, and practices in China and the U.S. may be different from each other but some values bind the two communities—those of mutual understanding, respect, solidarity, and honesty. This is the reason why one should expect to be at home in both these cultures. All that is really needed is a knowledge of the customs and practices of these two areas, and fluency in the languages spoken by the native people.