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Updated : 2013.12.26  01:03:28
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  As you know, Korea and China were influenced by the Confucian culture, and we not only use Chinese characters but also use chopsticks as well. For me, China was just a neighboring nation, but, when I was a sophomore, I had a chance to take a Chinese culture class. This class made me curious about real Chinese culture. Simple curiosity about China led me to go to China as an exchange student for one year. Moreover, it made me drawn into China. So I want to share what happened in China and what made me love that country.
  For me, the first word that pops up into my head when I think of China is ‘big’, and this word has multiple uses considering China. First, China is a really huge nation which leads to the notion of a diverse population of people. The country is broken into 34 divisions---22 provinces, 4 municipalities, 5 autonomous regions, and 2 special administrative regions. From Shanghai to Inner Mongolia, each region of China has its own customs, food, and a lot of sight-seeing spots. If you want to see a vast expanse of green scenery, you can go to Inner Mongolia. Or if you want to watch pandas, you can go to Sichuan. So, to experience this vast landscape, I traveled throughout China in my spare time, and there were always many scenic spots and places of historic interest everywhere I went. China is a country where the future co-exists with the past. When I went to Shanghai, the night view of the city was really spectacular and I still haven’t forgotten it. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower looked like the lighthouse of Shanghai, and I could also see a traditional styled house just nearby the tower and its cluster of modern buildings.
  The second reason that China is ‘big’ is because of its rapid growth, which was something that really surprised me. China has a very similar history to that of Korea. For example, in Korea, city and business development have been on the rise for the past three decades. I witnessed the same kind of growth in China. This is to say, my school was located in the middle of the country and many apartments and buildings had been under construction when I reached there at first. They were all completed in just one year. That whole district seemed to change day by day, proving China’s business and infrastructure development. Selling and purchasing international brand merchandise also showed noticeable rapid growth. Although the prices of these brands are more expensive than in Korea the Chinese people prefer imported products, and interestingly they really like to use Korean cosmetics. I was happy and proud of that because they’ve been always praising for high quality of Korean goods.
  Third, and finally, I want to talk about Chinese food. For me, eating Chinese food was a big concern, and I was worried about that before I arrived. There are some people who don’t like to eat Chinese food and sometimes they told me that Chinese food tasted bad. I understand why and how they felt that way because I know that some Chinese foods are too oily for Koreans. However, I disagree with the opinion that all Chinese foods taste bad. After living there for one year, I adapted to Chinese foods, and now I love them. I also realized that I did not know what actual Chinese food really tasted like until I tried the real authentic Chinese cuisine. There are a various number of Chinese dishes, and I strongly recommend that you try them. I’m sure you’ll love them too!
  Thus, if you plan to go to China to study or travel, I want to recommend that you throw away your preconceptions about China. If you can go to the country with an open-mind, I’m sure it will be a great experience for you. For instance, some Koreans do not like to eat the leaf of coriander (Chinese spice), but you have to consider that the Chinese do not like the leaf of sesame, which Koreans love. In my opinion, our cultural differences are something similar to the differences in our eating habits. They love coriander leaf and we love sesame leaf. We don’t understand some parts of their culture at first, but later we learn to understand it and even enjoy it with them---if we keep an open-mind. Through the year of being an exchange student in China, I learned how I can blend in and cultivate the power of understanding.

JO Eun-Jin

Dept.of International Trade

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