Naomi Berry 212211158
Critical Review
In my first week in China I hit three cultural barriers that I had to triumph over...
Naomi Berry 212211158
thing I have ever seen,so I found that following my own map and standing on my own two feet was
Naomi Berry 212211158
more people studying languages and travelling overseas it is becoming possible to develop ones
Naomi Berry 212211158
Nations to trade with the world in order to help the impoverished and raise the standard of living...
Naomi Berry 212211158
how I should be presenting myself in a resume or job interview. Last of all to be truly appreciate...
Naomi Berry 212211158
accomplishments and opportunities during 11th
Five Year Plan’, Energy Policy,vol. 39, pp. 2165-
of 6

Naomi Berry_212211158_Critical Review

Published on: Mar 3, 2016

Transcripts - Naomi Berry_212211158_Critical Review

  • 1. Naomi Berry 212211158 1 Critical Review In my first week in China I hit three cultural barriers that I had to triumph over in order to live and work successfully. I was confronted most when I first arrived by the fact that I was staying in an apartment not a hotel. I have travelled overseas before but never on my own, and I did not expect the shock that came with not having a reception desk to rely on. There was no buffet breakfast in the morning or staff to make my bed during the day and it felt very lonely. These cultural barriers included the way the apartment was set out, very small living areas,no natural lighting, a traditional Chinese style toilet and a tiny kitchen that smelt like eggs. I felt that in Beijing every night felt like Saturday night because the restaurants always seemed busy and every garden, play ground or open area was full of groups of people. These groups of people were quite intimidating to me at first, because if I saw groups of people on the street in Australia at night time I would assume it was a brawl and stay clear. However,on further investigation I found that these were activity groups, some groups sung karaoke or what can only be described as Chinese opera. Others were exercising through Tai Chi or some form of line dancing while others were playing board games such as Chinese Chess or Mahjong which normally included yelling because I believe gambling was involved. I came to the conclusion that because everyone lived in small apartments, most people spent their evenings outdoors, instead of watching large televisions and cooking dinner. I felt that going for walks solved my problems of having a small living space which helped me find close by restaurants,creative cafes to read in and supermarkets, after mapping out the area around my apartment I eventually had to join a gym. The second cultural barrier I experienced upon arriving, I was expecting, the language barrier. I completed a two week language course before starting my internship, which gave me survival skills. Although most academic high schools taught English, very few Chinese people spoke it in public because,as I later learned from Chinese friends, embarrassment is a very strong and shameful emotion in China. I feelAustralians are known for laughing off mistakes. However, it is seen as extremely rude to laugh at someone in China, thus if a Chinese person is not confident enough in their English language abilities they refuse to try because the risk of saying something wrong and causing embarrassment is too great. Nevertheless waiters and cashiers never thought twice about laughing at me when I was trying to ask for something in particular. I eventually found the universal language of hand gestures and translation apps to be quite helpful. The third major cultural barrier I had to overcome was transportation. Taxis turned out to be more trouble than they were worth. Many would drive past me without stopping, I originally thought this was because I was a foreigner but was later told it was because I was a woman travelling alone. In addition the tones in the Chinese language are difficult to master and saying the incorrect tone could result in the taxi taking you to the wrong side of Beijing. The bus system was the most confusing
  • 2. Naomi Berry 212211158 2 thing I have ever seen,so I found that following my own map and standing on my own two feet was much more effective. Unfortunately I could not walk everywhere but soon discovered that the subway system was quite timely and was colour coordinated. Although the amount of people that managed to fit into a single train made it difficult to breathe and the lines to get on the train were so long you would nearly be late for work, it really was the best way to get around the city. I was able to find new shopping centres and visit the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. Although conquering cultural barriers was not one of my original goals, I have realised that an international internship is about more than understanding the organisation I worked for or trying to see the business world inside a rising superpower. First I had to understand myself. I never took a gap year which means I have been in Australia’s education system since I was 3 years old; I have also lived in the same house and have had a lot of the same friends for most of my life. It is hard to see yourself as an individual when you are trying to be a good daughter, sister, friend, student, girl friend or employee. Once that is all taken away it is difficult to know how to act. I discovered that by relying on myself I found new confidence in my ability of being a strong independent woman. I learnt to trust my own judge of character when it comes to meeting new people and am proud to say I met friends, some nationals and some foreigners, which I will stay in touch with. Now the idea of living overseas no longer scares me it excites me. After breaking out of my comfort zone and finding a way to be myself in an unfamiliar place, I believe I gained a lot of life experience and personal skills. In addition, I also believe I gained inter- cultural knowledge. Breaking through cultural barriers for me means that you are able to accept and embrace them. Academics in cross cultural communication describe these barriers as ‘things that are used to structure and differentiate, an ‘Us’ from ‘Them’ (Dalal, 2007).’ It is difficult to assimilate into a country where because of your appearance you feel separated,and on show. Australia is quite multicultural to the point that it is impossible to base someone’s nationality on their appearance. But in China it feels as if there is a large Us and Them vibe because the foreigners stand out on the subway, on the street and in shopping malls. Chinese culture is breed so deep in their history, respect for superiors and national pride that it is difficult to pick up the social norms. It is these norms that create a person’s cultural identity and gives them a feeling of belonging. The new phenomenon of globalisation has made ‘people around the world … forced to change in identity because of the globalisation process in economics, media and politics (Heisey, 2011, . 67).’ Through the process of modernisation for a country to be known as developed they have to be globalised. When a nation is globalised it is homogenous with the rest of the world and this changes the way a cultural identity is created. It does not necessarily make it easier or harder to be accepted in a new country but the process towards acceptance is more natural. For example I found a lot of similarities to home that ranged from the brands in supermarkets to what was showing at the movies. It is interesting that with
  • 3. Naomi Berry 212211158 3 more people studying languages and travelling overseas it is becoming possible to develop ones cultural identity further by experiencing new ways of life. On the other hand, Chinese scholar Guo- Ming Chen believes that the ‘foundation of identity theory is dominated by western thinking (Heisey, 2011, p. 73).’ He describes how the religion Hinduism considers a true self is found with a total loss of individual identity and Buddhism believes in having total detachment from self, while Taoism also talks about the freedom needed in identity (Heisey, 2011). This indicates that my perceptions of cultural identity and my efforts to belong may be completely misunderstood because even different nations have different views about what culture is. This is a strange and wonderful idea to explore while overseas, by having a cultural understanding of a nation does that mean I have to try to act more Chinese or merely be accepted because I understand some of their norms and language or maybe it is just impossible to fully grasp another nations culture. Cultural values have been described as formed by natural selection because human beings need to be accepted into a group in order to survive in it (Zhan & Wang, 2014). Identity can be seen to be broken up into ethno-cultural, political and national identity. I found that a distinguishing feature of Chinese culture is the fact that it is a communist country. Collective rights seemed to unite Chinese people in such a unique way; it makes it difficult to assimilate. It can also be said that culture is manmade it is used to create comfort and social order as certain appearances and patterns are developed (Zhan & Wang, 2014). This also makes it difficult to break away from a culture and join another because of features such as appearance and the need for a sense of belonging. Goals are ideas and plans that we formulate in our minds to help us achieve a better future for ourselves. The goals I planned to achieve upon leaving for China were mainly professional, as this was my first chance to experience work life in an office environment and have firsthand knowledge about the inner workings of the business world. The lessons I learnt culturally and personally have changed who I am as an individual and made me realised the true meaning of travelling. However as a University student I gained professional development by learning about public policy in a communist country. I have completed units at Deakin University that set a solid foundation for me to gain understanding in this area. Units about the ‘Rise of China’ illustrated the nation’s complicated history. Having background knowledge of the Cultural Revolution is needed to grasp how difficult to is for the government to alter Education Policy (Ross & Feng, 2008), this point in history demonstrates the nation’s opinion on the government’s relationship with education and emotions towards the difference between vocational education and academic degrees. This unit also gave me my first real interest in China because it is where I learnt about the Great Leap Forward. This policy showed me the power governments have over the population as thirty six million Chinese people died in efforts to advance their country (Yang, 2012). Further units such as the ‘International Relations of the Asia Pacific Region’ and an ‘Indonesian Study Tour’ gave me an idea of what Asian countries need to survive, and how much they have globalised through organisation such as the Association of Southeast Asian
  • 4. Naomi Berry 212211158 4 Nations to trade with the world in order to help the impoverished and raise the standard of living in Asia. A more recent unit ‘Developed and Developing Worlds’ taught me about the stages of modernisation (Rostow, 1960) and why a country has the need to develop in competition with the rest of the world (Armer & Katsillis, 2001). Finally, one of the last essays I wrote before starting my internship was for ‘Comparative politics’ in which I had to discuss Chinas environmental policy. This gave me an understanding of how the government uses five year plans and the different levels of the communist party policy has to pass through before they are active (Price,et al, 2011). All this background information gave me the ability to have intellectual conversations with my co- workers about Chinese politics and determine my research interview questions which I used in my report. The Internship taught me the importance of knowing who is who in the business world. During my placement I was able to assist in organising the Australia China Alumni Associations Annual Awards Night. At the event I was able to meet the Australian Ambassador to China Ms Frances Adamson, who is a woman with a successfulfamily and an international career making her an inspiration to me. She helped me believe that my international internship and focusing my studies on Asia will take me one step closer to the future I want for myself. It was important for me to be able to recognise her, know her position and recent work in order to be able to confidently approach her, this was also the case for Christopher Lawson a First Secretary at the Australian Embassy and Eliza Chui who works for Aus Trade and lastly, Timothy White from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Research skills I have developed at University have shown me how to find relevant government pages and journal articles to create a profile of the people I knew were attending the event and wanted to network with, hopefully to help further my future career. Without a business card in China you are invisible, cards are highly respected and should be passed with two hands, in addition once accepted read through at least twice to show interest in the person. This benefited me because by exchanging business cards with people I met at the awards night I was able to follow up with a thank you emails so that they were less likely to forget me. In addition to research,I learned about the Chinese business world through the Beijing Consulting Group. My expectations were the same as most that the Chinese were tough negotiators, needed to have trust and mutual connections with a partner before making a deal and that most meetings were done in social settings such as lunch (Moran, et al, 2010). What I found was that they were less strict about being punctual and it is their national pride which makes them vaguely reserved. China has had many negative experiences with western imperialism so trust is valued among all else in business. It is easy to forget that this is also a very corrupt country (Moran, et al, 2010), so I learnt it is important to know a business persons relationship with the Chinese Communist Party,whether they are a member or not and how high up they are. These experiences also exposed that marketing and promoting yourself or your business is essential in a successful company. This gave me a new perspective on
  • 5. Naomi Berry 212211158 5 how I should be presenting myself in a resume or job interview. Last of all to be truly appreciated in the work place it is vital to show initiative and complete tasks independently. Public policy is needed in every country so that there is a plan for the economy and the future, so that the needs of health care,education and unemployment are met. The China Higher Ed website I saw being developed was a resource for overseas Universities so that they could read in English the developments in the Chinese Education System. Since this was a non-government organisation I did not have the opportunity to see public policy in action but I had access to experts in the Education field who enabled me to understand more than my own research could tell me and their different cultural identities made their different opinions very interesting to work with. This internship will now become evidence on my resume, to show that I am able to apply the skills I learnt at University and use them in the workforce. My manager will also become a great reference because I was able to build a successfulrelationship with her. The personal and cultural skills I learnt have given me a better idea of who I am as in individual and which workforce I want to put my time and energy in. I am grateful I was able to experience this and am proud of myself for achieving my goals and making the most of my University skills. References Armer, M & Katsillis, J, 2001, ‘Modernization Theory’, Encyclopaedia of Sociology, vol. 3, retrieved 2nd February 2015, < cc2&prodId=GIC&userGroupName=itsbtrial&tabID=T001&docId=CX3404400243&type=retrieve& contentSet=EBKS&version=1.0>. Dalal, F, 2007, ‘The meaning of boundaries and barriers in the development of cultural identity and between cultures’, Psychodynamic Counselling: Individuals, Groups and Organisations,vol 5, no. 1, pp. 161-171, retrieved 31st January 2015, <>. Heisey, D, 2011, ‘International Perspectives on Cultural Identity’, Review of Communication, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 66-82, retrieved 20th of January 2015, <>. Moran, R, Harris, P & Moran S, 2010, Managing Cultural Differences, Taylor and Francis, retrieved 23rd January 2015, < >. Price,L, Levine, M, Zhou, N,Fridley, D, Aden , N, Lu, H,McNeil, M, Zheng, N, Qin, Y & Yowargena,P,2011, ‘Assessment of China’s Energy-saving and emission- reduction
  • 6. Naomi Berry 212211158 6 accomplishments and opportunities during 11th Five Year Plan’, Energy Policy,vol. 39, pp. 2165- 2178, retrieved 2nd February 2015, <>. Ross, R & Feng, Z (ed.),2008, China’s Ascent: Power, Security and the future of international politics, Cornell University Press,London. Rostow, W, 1960, The stages of economic growth: non- communist manifesto, Cambridge University Press,Cambridge. Yang, J, 2012, Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine 1958-1962,Farrar,Straus and Giroux, New York. Zhan, X & Wang, S, 2014, ‘Political Identity: A Perspective from Cultural Identity’, Social Sciences in China, vol. 35, no. 2, pp.155-173, retrieved 21st January 2015, <>.

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