I come from a small town named Liaocheng in Shandong Province, China. I finished all the compulsory education in that small town. Then I went to Shandong Finance and Economics University, which is in Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province. The cultural space didn’t change much when I was in China, no matter I’m in Liaocheng or Jinan. People of Shandong are famous of their generous nature. The word which can describe people from Shandong best is “义气”. This word means people must do everything they can to help a friend in need, even sacrifice themselves. People of Shandong like to make friends and treat their friends as their brothers. That’s why you always see people of Shandong are in a large group. Another characteristic of people from Shandong is that they love liquor and beer very much. Drinking is a way to show friendship in Shandong. The closer you and your friends are, the more you need to drink when you have meals together. Not like in the U.S, in China, lunch and supper are all of the same importance. So you may see many people drink a lot in lunch and then drink even more in supper. One’s drinking capacity can have great effects on one’s social intercourse. I grew up in that condition. Most of my friends are from Shandong. So I was in the cultural space of “Shandong Culture”. I have many friends in Shandong, and I really love this place.
Everything changed when I got a chance to be an exchange student to University of Minnesota. The farewell parties last for about two weeks because there are too many friends to say good bye. I drunk time after time in that two weeks (In China, there is no age restrictions for drinking). But that is a good memory. Life in U.S is not like what I initially thought. The culture shock is very hard to overcome. The spoken English in America is different from what I have learnt for 6 years in China. I was like Robinson; he was in an isolated island while I am isolated from the society. Even until now, I don’t think I’m familiar with American culture. The cultural space actually doesn’t change much. Most of my friends here are still Chinese; we live in a Chinese lifestyle and cook Chinese food. The only difference is that we should speak English when we go out. It is a hard challenge to enter a new cultural space. I’m still on my way to get adjusted to the new cultural space.
I think cultural may have a great influence on individuals. People are not born but educated to be who they are. If one’s brought up in a certain cultural space, he will not be able to get rid of the influence of that. The way in which we thinking, talking and behaving is affected a lot by the cultural space. An obvious example is ABC (American born Chinese). They look like Chinese in appearance, but are American indeed. They grew in American culture so there is no doubt that they have nothing similar with Chinese except skin color. So I think cultural space has huge influence on individuals.