比利时人眼中的中国人和中国人眼中的比利时人

因为要去鲁汶大学做实验,在查信息的时候,无意中Google到一篇比利时人写的“鲁汶学生如何看中国人和中国学生如何看鲁汶”,写得有点意思,虽然比利时是小国,但此文也就相当于外国人眼中的中国人和中国人眼中的外国人。原文见此链接,语言是英语,抱歉我没有时间把它敲成中文,见谅。不过对此文有兴趣的人应该能看懂的吧?看不懂的话还是学点英语吧,一语一世界。

全文分别采访了在鲁汶大学留学的两位中国学生和在中国清华大学待过五个月的两位比利时学生,从生活习惯、语言、文化、饮食等方面讲述了东西方之间的差异,报道还是很比较详细和客观。事实上我对双方的感受都有所体会:东西方当然有差别,改得了国籍,改不了文化习惯的根,就看如何求同存异了。

不能访问原链接的可以阅读下面的原文引用,也聊作备份。正好明天比利时一名为MO的杂志要采访我,看来对他们的问题有些准备了。

What Leuven’s students think of China and Chinese students think of Leuven

by Tine Bergen

A study or research trip abroad is always an exciting undertaking, but especially when the geographical and cultural distance is as great as it is between Belgium and China. How do students deal with all the differences, the rhythms of life, the eating habits, the language, etc? We approached both students from Leuven and China in order to compare their experiences.

“The Belgians are very polite and patient”

Counted together, Xuan Luo and Chun Gong have spent almost nine years studying in Leuven. Though China beckons, it seems clear that they have reason enough to stay in Belgium. “I have been in Belgium for six and a half years,” Chun tells us. I completed the first year of my Bachelor’s degree in China and came here the next year. When I had finished my programme, I did a pre-doctoral year. At the moment I am doing a PhD at IMEC (research center in nano-electronics and nano-technology, ed.) on solar cells, though I actually studied electronics for my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. I did not know very much about Belgium before I came here. I wanted to go abroad anyway because I wanted to broaden my horizons. I knew about Belgium from Hercule Poirot, the detective in Agatha Christie’s novels. Some of my parents’ friends had studied in Belgium and they spoke very highly of the excellent education here. Moreover, Belgium lies at the very heart of Europe. I think Leuven is paradise on Earth for students. Everybody is friendly, the town is full of students of various nationalities and backgrounds and I know I can safely walk the streets alone at two o’clock in the morning.”

“I came here because of Chun’s great stories,” Xuan laughs. “I had only heard of Belgium because of Duracell batteries and football. I only came here once I had completed my studies in China. I have just completed a second Master’s degree in Material Engineering here, and I hope to be able to stay to do a doctorate.”

“Of course there are things one has to adapt to,” Chun adds. “For example, Belgians often sniff through their noses, which is not considered proper in China. On the other hand, we slurp while we eat, which is simply ‘not done’ here. I also had to get used to the limited selection on the menus at restaurants. In China you can pick from literally hundreds of dishes, whilst here you are lucky if the menu has more than one page.”

“In China we also take very long lunch breaks,” Xuan says. “We take at least an hour and a half to two hours to really enjoy our lunch. At the company where I did my internship last year, we were given thirty minutes to eat a quick sandwich.”

Chun: “In China it is not uncommon for students to share a room with four or even six roommates. People here are very surprised when I tell them that. Belgians are much more individualistic. When I go back to China for the holidays, I have to readjust to all the people and the noise. One needs friends to go out with and to talk to, but sometimes I like to be alone and to reflect on things peacefully. It is at times like those that I miss the tranquillity in Belgium.”

“I was truly touched by the warmth and friendliness with which I was received here. I have made some very good friends who really care about me. One of my professors has become like a second father to me. He has even visited my home in China. He is genuinely concerned about how things are going in my life in general, and not only about my study results.”

“I am still amazed that cars actually stop when you cross the street here,” Xuan says. “They do not do that in China, even at traffic lights! Belgians are very polite and patient. The way they hold the door open for one another, for example. There is also much less stress here than in China, where you really have to battle for a place at secondary school and then in higher education. If you do not manage to secure a place at a good university, your chances of getting a decent job reduce drastically.”

“I have started planning things much more since my arrival in Belgium,” Chun says. “Every student has a diary here, whereas in China none of them do. We do write down what needs to be done by the end of the week, but that is as far as it goes. If you want to get anything done here, you have to start by making appointments. The Chinese are more flexible in this respect. I have even learned to plan my grocery shopping. In China, the shops are open until at least 10 pm and sometimes even until midnight, every day of the week.”

Do they never have trouble communicating at the shops? “I enrolled in an intensive Dutch course, so at least I know what I am putting in my trolley at the supermarket,” Xuan says. “There are many similarities to English, which makes things easier. There are also a surprising number of Sinologists in Leuven. I have even heard of someone who spoke to a Belgian in Chinese and was responded to in Chinese as well!”

“The Chinese are more tolerant”

Bas Brouwers and Ruben Dries, students of biomedical science, travelled to Tsinghua University in Beijing for five months to carry out research for their theses. “The laboratory at Gasthuisberg has already collaborated with Tsinghua University’s laboratory for a number of years,” Bas tells us. “We were asked if we would like to go to China for five months and I agreed immediately. I didn’t really know anything about China, but it seemed to be an exciting country; a challenge.”

“I researched the operation of the protein furine. I had been testing it on mice here, but in China I tested it on cell cultures. I focussed on the expression of the protein in certain liver cells and how this is related to hepatic calcification.”

Ruben, on the other hand, researched zebra fish: “Their development shows similarities to that of humans; I manipulated a certain gene, RNF11, in order to discover whether it also influences the way the fish develop.”

“In China we worked seven days a week, which is the custom there. It was not actually that bad. The fact that everyone works so hard is very motivating. The atmosphere is completely different there too. The Chinese do work long hours, but they are always chatting and laughing as well.”

“It was even just business as usual during the Christmas period, and I had no problems with that. I just thought: I’m in China and I have to adapt. We did celebrate New Year twice though, on 1 January and on Chinese New Year.”

Bas: “The Chinese are very curious and want to know everything. We stood out: we are tall, blond and white. People often started shouting when we walked by or they wanted to have their picture taken with us. The language-barrier was problematic sometimes, though.

Communication usually took place in ‘Chinglish’. The Chinese are taught English from when they are seven years old and they usually have a very wide vocabulary, but they are often afraid to speak English. Sometimes I would start speaking to someone and notice them getting nervous, or sometimes they would just walk away.”

“We learned about five words of Chinese while we were there. We had been told before we left that five months is not long enough to learn any Chinese. We were expected to take one course in Chinese, which we did for two hours. There is not a single point of contact: their words sound nothing like any language we know so there is nothing to associate them with. Ten different dialects are spoken in Beijing and thus the same word might be pronounced ten different ways, but everyone understands one another. If we were to use that same word, nobody would understand us. Sometimes I thought: please just understand us for once! It was frustrating on occasion, but overall it was more humorous than anything else. We each had a guide who spoke fluent English and we discovered fairly quickly who we could safely ask questions to in the lab and who not to bother.”

Ruben and Bas often ate at the dining hall, the Chinese equivalent to Alma. Ruben: “They have an enormous selection and you can have a really good meal for only 80 cents. Though sometimes you would rather not know what you are eating. For example, it happened that we were sitting there enjoying a nice meal until someone came and told us our plates were filled with chicken intestines. There were a few things we didn’t try, such as pigs’ trotters and chickens’ claws. We did try black eggs, however. They are considered to be a delicacy in China. The eggs are preserved in a special way under the ground for a number of months or even years. This makes the yolk turn grey and the egg white turn black. They taste just the same as normal eggs, but after seeing them it is very hard to bring yourself to eat them!”

Bas: “The Chinese enjoy different tastes than we do anyway, they use many more herbs. According to them, we enjoy fatty and sweet tastes. We once took a Chinese friend to a Belgian restaurant to try steak and chips. He didn’t like it at all and used every little bit of salt and pepper he could find to cover his meal with it.”

Generally speaking, the two think the Chinese are exceptionally tolerant. Ruben: “You need to be, living so close together.”

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