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TWCC59 – Can You Really Bridge the Cultural Gap?, Episode 59

We’re back for another episode of Two White Chicks in China!

This week our question comes from Desiree (via Facebook), who asks us “Is it possible for foreigners to have close friendships with Chinese people?”

If you want to ask us a question just go to our voicemail page and leave us your question!

In This Episode We Talk About…

  • A lovely review
  • Some comments
  • “Chinese trolls write 488 million fake social media posts a year and don’t even earn 50 cents for it”
  • Desiree’s question
  • Some reasons why close friendships might not be possible
  • Our experiences with Chinese friends
  • Chinese and Foreigners sticking to their own
  • Bridging the gap (eventually)
  • Our Chinese word of the week is ‘culture’: 文化 (wén huà). You can learn more Chinese words on our Online Dictionary.
  • DON’T FORGET TO CLAIM YOUR FREE WRITTEN CHINESE DICTIONARY FLASHCARDS! Use the promocode ‘twowhitechicks’ for your free set of dating flashcards. Read these instructions to claim your Chinese flashcards!
  • If you have a question for us, please send us a voicemail or leave us a message below!
  • People and Companies We Mentioned in the Show

    Episode Length 58:08

    Thanks so much for tuning in. Join us again next week for our next topic and another question from one of our listeners!
    If you want to ask us a question you can Send us a Voicemail!

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    Thanks for listening guys!
    – Hollie & Nora

    twcc59 square - true chinese friends

    Facebook Comments

    • Another great episode! Although on the point about people doing favours for each other – you better believe that everyone knows who owes who and in general you’ll be expected to pay them back in some form (might not be direct, ie could be helping their friends) at some point (normally not immediately).

      Keeping track of these things is really just past of the culture. At my daughter’s 1st birthday, there was a book out on the table which was used to record the amounts of money each person gave. You can buy books created especially for this purpose, ie this is a common thing. That’s an extreme example (and also motivated by shaming people into giving more), but keeping track of who owes who what is a much bigger part of the culture in China than in the West.

      I’ve never worked out how it applies to foreigners. I suspect many people understand foreigners are different and aren’t really expecting much back, but I’m sure some will be expecting something. That’s why I try to discourage people from doing me favours!

      • Nora Joy Wilson

        Thanks for the insights! Agreed, I think between Chinese people there is a much stricter code of gift giving. As a foreigner here, I appreciate the gifts from Chinese people (though they often spend extravagant amounts on things that I don’t really like or use), and I try to return the favors by being available to help with connections when possible. Many times that means connecting a family with kids to a good, reliable English teacher. I haven’t seemed to have a problem with this and have quite a few strong long term relationships. Maybe I’m missing something, but I remain content in my ignorance if that’s the case :P.

    • Antonina

      Hi girls, I’ve spent a year in Taiwan and ended up having a lot of good relationships. I was surprised by this, because I was prepared for Asian people to be very withdrawn or for the relation to will be rather shallow. But I’m a very open and social person, so nevertheless I did a lot of effort, like to become a member of some groups (like university traditional music club) which made it easier to surround myself with local people and make friends.

      It’s true that most Taiwanese that I got close with had good Engilsh. Of course their English was better that my Chinese but I was already able to have more advanced discussion. So we switched languages and it wasn’t the major issue. I just felt that because of their English, they were more confident to approach me (or at least don’t get scared when I did).

      I’m aware that Taiwanese and mainland mentality is quite different, but for my own defence (!) I also made friends with one girls from Xi’An. She was an exchange student in Taipei, we met in the breakfast store and keep eating breakfast together till she had to come back home. We talked about literature, social issues, our hobbies, trips and personal life. We talked both English and Chinese, switching when more convenient. We didn’t have enough time to reach the level of calling each other in the middle of the night :p but we shared current worries, both having a long distant relationships. She was so cute and clever I couldn’t believe I met (again!) my-type-person on the other half of the world.

      The most special friendship that I had though, was with a Japanese girl from my language class. Japanese are known for being shy and introverted the most among all Asian people. She was very calm, so at first glance, she could fit to the stereotype. But she had different approach than her fellows – didn’t want to stick to other Japanese people. She’ve even said it straight: If I would like to spend time with other Japanese, why would I leave Japan? But what was special between us – she didn’t speach English AT ALL. If we wanted to make friends, Chinese was the only way for us to communicate. And even though we had such a different backgrounds and personalities, we enjoyed our lunches together, talking for hours in the Sushi Express. Sometimes about really intimate things – family situation and hopes for the future.

      I think that this culture gap and the atmosphere of trust and support made it easier for my Asian friends to open up, and speak freely. Because I was someone from the outside, not judging them and helping get another perspective.