It has been established that there is difficulty experienced by Chinese students in the United States in making friendship connections. This study aims to establish the impact of the disharmonious relationship between the Chinese students in the United States and Americans. Surveys and interviews were utilized in the study to gather data. 250 participants were randomly selected from a pool of one thousand students originally from Beijing in China. For the survey, a questionnaire consisting of open questions was issued to the participants. Most of them expressed that cultural differences was the main factor that led to the disharmony and that the issue negatively affected their mental wellbeing. In conclusion, it is important to find possible solutions that can ensure a peaceful relationship between the two groups is formed and that the matter of psychological wellbeing is prioritized.
Every year, several Chinese students move to the United States with the aim of pursuing further studies. Due to cultural differences, it becomes hard for them initially to interact with their American counterparts. The majority of them believe that the more interaction, the higher the chance of losing their culture. It is anxiety caused by the available information about the existing differences in beliefs and mannerisms. For instance, the Chinese are encouraged to respect their seniors and avoid any form of confrontation. In the U.S., everyone is empowered by the freedom of speech, and not even the President is free from criticism, especially on social media. The aim of this paper is to establish the impact of the disharmonious relationship between the Chinese students in the United States and Americans.
When Chinese student moves to the U.S. with the purpose of pursuing advancement in education, they throw themselves into a different or new milieu. Initially after entering the United States and enrolling, most of the Chinese students have uncertainty about the situation awaiting them, as suggested by Hosoi (2021). They are worried mostly concerning their conduct and speech and how they will be perceived (Yan, 2017). They are placed at a position to discover the right means of adapting in their new residence. According to Hosoi (2021), the situation forces them to try to collect enough information about their host nation and its people. In every place, there is a particular way individuals interact, which can be seen in the language and behavior around each other. For foreigners, it is important to learn all this to ensure easier transition.
Conversations in China can appear to be direct to the Americans. Despite the Americans’ obsession with placing people in context, the Chinese’s small talk about age, or marital status, seems intrusive and personal to an American. The Chinese students find the language as well as tone utilized in the formal American surroundings uncomfortable and rude. For instance, to them, thinking or reflecting before one speaks is essential. The differences in communication styles and language make it difficult for the students to adapt.
It has been established that during intercultural or intergroup communication, there are two sets of people, including in-group and out-group. At the initial stages of the interaction, the latter experiences anxiety, and they can easily notice the differences. When the gap becomes wider, the stranger becomes even more anxious and uncertain. Moderate levels of these emotions could inspire individuals to adjust better to the host environment. However, when they are excessive, they result in failure of communication or adjustment. The majority of the students who struggle to adjust completely to the situation in the country are those filled with fear of losing their culture.
To them, studying in the U.S. involves more than attending classes. It is almost compulsory to learn and be effective at showcasing the characteristics of the citizens. As suggested by Tang et al. (2018), the Chinese students’ perception of the people makes it difficult to adopt and adapt. Heng (2018) suggests that it is a great issue for them to relearn the Americans’ language and communication style. It can be stated that the majority of them feel that they may lose their cultural identity by attempting to learn other people’s culture. Changing their way of living is not among the reasons or motivation behind choosing the United States for studies (Chao et al., 2019). The country is among a few that has educational institutions with world-class standards.
Research Questions and Methods
There were several research questions developed to help gather information. The first one was to understand the reasons behind the disharmonious relationship between the Chinese and American students in the United States. The second one was to understand the impact of the disharmony on the Chinese students’ studies and mental wellbeing. The third question aimed to check on the specific feelings of the Chinese students in the United States as a result of the detachment between them and Americans. The last question targeted to check the possible solutions offered by the Chinese students to improve the situation. To answer the questions, the methods of data collection selected included survey and interviews for quantitative and qualitative research.
Two hundred and fifty participants were randomly selected from a pool of one thousand students originally from Beijing in China, with a mean age of 23 years. They consisted of individuals pursuing different programs such as finance, computer science, electronic engineering, biology, chemistry, and diplomacy. For the survey, a questionnaire consisting of open questions was issued to the participants. After submitting their responses, the participants were directed to an individual interview, where they were asked to be as sincere as possible without fear.
Results and Discussion
The participants were subjected to a survey that aimed to discover the reasons for the disharmonious relationship. The results can be seen in figure 1 where the majority of them claimed that it was due to cultural differences that they could not make connections with their American counterparts. The differences noticeable in how the Americans and Chinese behave is the main cause for the detachment. Of all those participating, only ten percent attributed to relations between China and U.S. and lifestyle differences to be the cause of not having a good relationship with the American students.
The effects of disharmonious relationship (N=100).
Table 1: The figure above shows a table representing participants’ rate from 1 to 5 which means a little to very much in terms of different side effects of disharmonious relationship. Table 1 shows that many of the participants claim that the disharmony between them and American students interferes with their studies. However, the effect is significantly higher in their mental health as they continue to face issues such as anxiety and depression. It appears the continued disharmony between the two groups is negatively affecting the psychological wellbeing of the Chinese students, as seen in table 1.
|Study quality or efficiency||3||3|
|Mood or mental health||4||1|
Feelings when Chinese students in the United States (N=100) cannot get along well with Americans.
Table 2: The figure above shows a table representing participants’ rate from 1 to 5 which means a little to very much in terms of different feelings when they cannot get along well with Americans. As suggested by the results in the previous table, many Chinese students face mental health issues, which can be manifested through anxiety, stress, or nervousness, as seen in table 2.
|Nervous, anxious, or stressed||5||1|
|Sad or depressed||4||2|
|Self-blame or self-doubt||3||3|
|Peace or relaxed||2||5|
The participants were subjected to a survey that aimed to discover the possible solutions to end the disharmonious relationship.
Figure 2: The bar graph shows the number of participants choosing different solutions for disharmonious relationship. On the one hand, the majority of the participants communicated that they believe the right approach to improving the relationship between Chinese and American students is through the former learning the American history and culture. Most express that they primarily spend time with other Chinese students, and they were always ready to assist one another. They choose to share residence with fellow Chinese to ensure that they maintain somewhat similar surroundings and culture as their home. On the other hand, only three suggest that they should write the causes of disharmony and overcome one after the other, as seen in figure 2.
The paper has established the impact of the disharmonious relationship between the Chinese students in the United States and Americans. The reasons for the disharmony include linguistic, cultural, and lifestyle differences. The effects of the detachment regardless of the validity of reasons mentioned are several. Most of them experience mental health issues due to the lack of connection or association with their American counterparts. It is important to find possible solutions that can ensure a peaceful relationship between the two groups is formed and that the matter of psychological wellbeing is prioritized.
Chao, C. N., Hegarty, N., Angelidis, J., & Lu, V. F. (2019). Chinese students’ motivations for studying in the United States. Journal of International Students, 7(2), 257-269. Web.
Heng, T. T. (2018). Different is not deficient: Contradicting stereotypes of Chinese international students in US higher education. Studies in higher education, 43(1), 22-36. Web.
Hosoi, M. (2021). Yingyi Ma. Ambitious and anxious: How Chinese college students succeed and struggle in American higher education. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2020. 312p. Paper, $35.00 (ISBN 978-0231184588). College & Research Libraries, 82(7), 1057.
Tang, X., Collier, D. A., & Witt, A. (2018). Qualitative study on Chinese students’ perception of US university life. Journal of International Students, 8(1), 151-178.
Yan, K. (2017). Chinese international students in the United States: Adjustment problems and coping behaviors. In Chinese international students’ stressors and coping strategies in the United States (pp. 19-32). Springer, Singapore. Web.
Table 3: The table above is a questionnaire
|Do you find it hard to interact with American students?|
|Is there any element that you find difficult to embrace in the American culture?|
On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate the effect of disharmonious relationship on:
|Study quality or efficiency|
|Mood or mental health|
Rank the following:
|The United States education system|
List five factors and possible solutions to the problem of disharmony:
Which category do you place this:
|Chinese students’ adaptability|
How many students experience,
|Nervous, anxious, or stressed|
|Sad or depressed|
|Self-blame or self-doubt|
|Peace or relaxed|