A country of striking natural formations and ancient architecture, China is an awe-inspiring, friendly, and delightful country. Discover this land of centuries-old temples and imperial palaces set amidst gleaming skyscrapers; become part of one of the most dynamic societies in the world. China is also the most populated country in the world, with 1.35 billion inhabitants.
Chinese diet consists more of vegetables, rice and noodles than of meat. Noodles and dumplings are popular in the north, while rice dishes are more common in the south. Chinese cuisine is varied and delicious with a wide spectrum of textures and tastes. Western food is widely available, but is a luxury that is considered expensive.
Depending on where the exchange student is from, he or she might have different favorite foods and tastes (spicy vs. mild, fish vs. livestock, and so on), and maybe a few traditional recipes to share with your family.
Mandarin Chinese (the national language) is spoken by more than 70% of the population and is also used in Singapore and Malaysia. China has 55 different ethnic groups, each with its own language or dialect.
Officially China is an atheist country, although it is not unusual to find some small religious groups as Taoists and Buddhists. Muslims represent 1% – 2% of the population and Christians 3% – 4%.
Increasingly, high schools in the U.S. are offering Mandarin instruction to prepare for cross-cultural relations. Mandarin is considered a “critical language,” meaning that the government and employers believe it is vital for growth.
The Confucian ethic of proper social and family relationships forms the foundation of Chinese society. The Chinese have a strong sense of family, and they respect hierarchy and interpersonal obligations. Parents expect to know when their children are going out and where they are going. Because parents tend to take a keen interest in their children’s education and expect them to study hard, they will typically set limits on going out or on recreational activities that might interfere with schoolwork.
Often, both parents in a family work outside the home. Families generally include one child, and it is not uncommon for a grandparent to live with the family.
Chinese students spend a great deal of their day in school engaged in studying. As described above, much of a Chinese teenager’s life revolves around his or her school. When not at school or engaged in school activities, teenagers get together at friends’ homes, go to movies, watch television or play sports. Soccer, ping-pong, handball, volleyball, basketball, Chinese traditional martial arts, and dance are all popular pastimes.
In the U.S., Chinese exchange students find joys in everyday American life. They attend high school, and become closely connected with your family during their time with you.