I think I've become a Chinese phantom :/

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AliceSwann
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Sad truth, I find it really hard to make friends.

I'm a fresher and I came to the UK in September. In school I only have a few friends from Asian and Middle East countries, but we aren't close, just acquaintences. I'm introvert but I tried talking to some British classmates, they're either cold and uninterested or super polite that it's hard to get close. (Not complaining tho, I know I'm not good at conversations and I'm not good looking :/)

It seems students living in the same hall often hang out together, but I only know like three people on my (3rd) floor (there are nine I think), and we only exchange conversations like hows it going and some other kitchen talking. I tried saying hi to the other flatmates but they just ignored me, it's so weird. I go down to the kitchen on the first floor sometimes and everyone at least say hi.

I joined a society and finally had some real conversations, but then it became awkward because of culture difference and all, sometimes I feel like I'll just stop making friends.

Thanks for reading this (if anyone does read this), I would really appreciate some advice... I've seen some discussion about Chinese students being unsociable and I feel like I might have fallen into that category. I was already quite unsociable in China, now that I'm in the UK it has become even harder to make friends but I would like to make a change :3
Last edited by AliceSwann; 2 years ago
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Rhythmical
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I'm British born and one of my close friends at university is Chinese. At first I was actually finding it hard to make friends with her, I didn't know if we'd share any common interests or anything but I got to know her, talk to her and we are getting on really well - plus we study the same subject (both joint honours). At my university I do see a lot of Chinese students all congregate together but I don't think that should happen, everyone should become friendly with each other and really try to integrate. Keep talking to people and joining societies, it will happen I promise, I felt the same way and broke down so many times.
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AliceSwann
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(Original post by Rhythmical)
I'm British born and one of my close friends at university is Chinese. At first I was actually finding it hard to make friends with her, I didn't know if we'd share any common interests or anything but I got to know her, talk to her and we are getting on really well - plus we study the same subject (both joint honours). At my university I do see a lot of Chinese students all congregate together but I don't think that should happen, everyone should become friendly with each other and really try to integrate. Keep talking to people and joining societies, it will happen I promise, I felt the same way and broke down so many times.
Thank you for the reply, you did give me hope! XD
Well I AM introvert which makes it even harder, and I'm more often alone than with a group of Chinese, it's probably not too healthy haha. I guess it just takes time and effort, anyway I appreciate your reply and hope everything goes well for you at uni
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Helloworld_95
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So there's really only two answers to this from what I've seen in my now 5 years worth of friendship with quite a few Chinese students: either adapt to the local culture or be open about the local culture, or find people who understand your culture. These are both fairly difficult tasks, though easier to complete if you don't have a strong Chinese friendship group. To be brutally honest, most people who manage this are in intercultural relationships, followed by people who do jobs that other local students would do i.e. not at a Chinese restaurant or Chinese run business, and people who have a strong interest in Western culture.

For adapting to culture, try more societies with softer interests i.e. hiking or board games which tend to appeal to a wider group of people and are more intimate.

If your city has multiple universities, check and see if there is a Confucius institute in the city, they will run a Sino-English corner or Tandem learning and this can be a good way to make friends, talk a bit to improve your confidence, etc. This is the best way of finding people who are interested in your culture, though be aware that there is a good sprinkling of people with less than good intentions amongst Chinese language learners (I'm saying this as a Chinese language learner lol). One of the major difficulties I've seen Chinese students face when integrating is having a not-good-enough English speaking level, so Sino-English corner also helps improve this too.

The other way is by sheer luck, which takes quite a long time. I'd also say that amongst the normal population, people who are interested in China and Chinese culture tend to be in later years of their degree, or postgrads, etc. as they've had more exposure to it so have had more chance to gain an interest. Younger students haven't had the same experience so just don't know about it.
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AceZeus100
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Speaking as an introvert myself, I've always found it quite hard to make new friends at university, even though I'm a native! I always found I got on really well with Chinese students who often want to make friends with people here but don't really know how at times. They're some of my closest friends, so I think it's certainly possible to bridge that cultural gap!

It can be hard when you feel like you're not really fitting in, especially half way through term when it seems everyone already has their best friends for their entire university life. It might be an idea to look at new societies at the beginning of next term. Typically the new term is a restart for societies and a great time to meet new people. Maybe your university has socials going on throughout the term too? I would just say don't giive up, you're only a few weeks in to your university life!

I'm always happy to chat if you ever want someone to talk to
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AliceSwann
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(Original post by Helloworld_95)
So there's really only two answers to this from what I've seen in my now 5 years worth of friendship with quite a few Chinese students: either adapt to the local culture or be open about the local culture, or find people who understand your culture. These are both fairly difficult tasks, though easier to complete if you don't have a strong Chinese friendship group. To be brutally honest, most people who manage this are in intercultural relationships, followed by people who do jobs that other local students would do i.e. not at a Chinese restaurant or Chinese run business, and people who have a strong interest in Western culture.

For adapting to culture, try more societies with softer interests i.e. hiking or board games which tend to appeal to a wider group of people and are more intimate.

If your city has multiple universities, check and see if there is a Confucius institute in the city, they will run a Sino-English corner or Tandem learning and this can be a good way to make friends, talk a bit to improve your confidence, etc. This is the best way of finding people who are interested in your culture, though be aware that there is a good sprinkling of people with less than good intentions amongst Chinese language learners (I'm saying this as a Chinese language learner lol). One of the major difficulties I've seen Chinese students face when integrating is having a not-good-enough English speaking level, so Sino-English corner also helps improve this too.

The other way is by sheer luck, which takes quite a long time. I'd also say that amongst the normal population, people who are interested in China and Chinese culture tend to be in later years of their degree, or postgrads, etc. as they've had more exposure to it so have had more chance to gain an interest. Younger students haven't had the same experience so just don't know about it.
Oh geez, that sounds hard! Well, I guess my English isn't that bad, and um... idk but going to a Sino-English corner seems weird to me (not that I think there's anything wrong with it!), and of course as a full time undergrad I only get the chance to do jobs during vacation, but I'm more likely to do jobs in China during vacation :/

As for Western culture, there sure is a lot I don't understand :/ I mean, I could talk to some classmates about Queen, Joy Division and whatever, and I've listened to people talking about feminism, movies etc. I could talk about them too, but they wouldn't talk to me about topics like that because they would assume I don't understand (like, not in a negative way). And of course culture isn't all about books, movies and music, it's also how people socialise, react and all... and yes, I've only been here for two months so I don't know much, but I will try to learn haha.

I'm not sure if I'd be doing postgrad in the UK tho (in fact, will I even survive three years of undergrad?), but I did imagine it would be easier to communicate with people when everyone's more mature and all.

Thanks for your advice!
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Andrew97
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Can’t reallt give advice really, just be yourself.

I’m British born living at home, I’m more friendly with people from my secondary school than uni. Awkward around new people I say, but then something clicks and I fire off the jokes.
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AliceSwann
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(Original post by AceZeus100)
Speaking as an introvert myself, I've always found it quite hard to make new friends at university, even though I'm a native! I always found I got on really well with Chinese students who often want to make friends with people here but don't really know how at times. They're some of my closest friends, so I think it's certainly possible to bridge that cultural gap!

It can be hard when you feel like you're not really fitting in, especially half way through term when it seems everyone already has their best friends for their entire university life. It might be an idea to look at new societies at the beginning of next term. Typically the new term is a restart for societies and a great time to meet new people. Maybe your university has socials going on throughout the term too? I would just say don't giive up, you're only a few weeks in to your university life!

I'm always happy to chat if you ever want someone to talk to
That is so relatable! In high school I only made two or three friends and that was in second year, and that was in China. The only thing that changed in uni was that it became so much easier to make Chinese friends, they just look at me and accept me as a friend! I never had so many Chinese friends in my life ahahah.

Yes societies are a good idea, but they are very flexible (at least in my uni), you could meet like two new people at some activity and never see them again! But it's definitely worth a try

Oh thank you, shall we chat through tsr message system? Sounds retro and cool!
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AliceSwann
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(Original post by Andrew97)
Can’t reallt give advice really, just be yourself.

I’m British born living at home, I’m more friendly with people from my secondary school than uni. Awkward around new people I say, but then something clicks and I fire off the jokes.
Ahah me too, awkward around new people :/

Well, I hope it clicks for me too someday ahahah.
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Helloworld_95
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(Original post by AliceSwann)
Oh geez, that sounds hard! Well, I guess my English isn't that bad, and um... idk but going to a Sino-English corner seems weird to me (not that I think there's anything wrong with it!), and of course as a full time undergrad I only get the chance to do jobs during vacation, but I'm more likely to do jobs in China during vacation :/

As for Western culture, there sure is a lot I don't understand :/ I mean, I could talk to some classmates about Queen, Joy Division and whatever, and I've listened to people talking about feminism, movies etc. I could talk about them too, but they wouldn't talk to me about topics like that because they would assume I don't understand (like, not in a negative way). And of course culture isn't all about books, movies and music, it's also how people socialise, react and all... and yes, I've only been here for two months so I don't know much, but I will try to learn haha.

I'm not sure if I'd be doing postgrad in the UK tho (in fact, will I even survive three years of undergrad?), but I did imagine it would be easier to communicate with people when everyone's more mature and all.

Thanks for your advice!
Agreed, they're a little weird, but it's the best way of doing it. Many full time undergraduates take a job during term time, though obviously don't do this if you feel you need to concentrate entirely on your course.

Have you tried actually talking to them about those things, or have you just listened and assumed?

I didn't mean when you're a postgrad, etc., I meant make friends with them.
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AliceSwann
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(Original post by Helloworld_95)
Agreed, they're a little weird, but it's the best way of doing it. Many full time undergraduates take a job during term time, though obviously don't do this if you feel you need to concentrate entirely on your course.

Have you tried actually talking to them about those things, or have you just listened and assumed?

I didn't mean when you're a postgrad, etc., I meant make friends with them.
Oh maybe I could see to it... I mean a part time job on weekends, I'll see if there's a chance around where I live, that would also solve some of the financial problems!

Well I have tried talking to them about those things a few times, but mostly it's awkward to get into the conversation when they start by saying, ‘So we're all Europeans and we can talk about some nice politics and stereotypes...’ Not complaining! I mean this is probably to do with my social skills, it's hard for ppl to sense my presence sometimes (that includes my Chinese friends too)

Oh well I misunderstood it haha, yes I did get to know a few postgrads in society!
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Eva Sousa
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I am also a foreigner student, and of a differente age what scared me before I came. Andwhat I did was to put a lot of effort in meeting new friends. With the chinese group from my education I have a really good impression, i spook slightly with one person of the groupe because both of us went to the wrong auditory and since there his friends started to greeting me and to talk when they pass by. Before I came to UK I was told that chinese people dont like to mix with the others, they prefer friends whithin, but since I am here I realise is that if they are so judged is very difficult to make friends outside their group.A solution for you is keep open to other people, altough scared, so many of them don't know that you wish to be friend with them too.Good luck.
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AliceSwann
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Thanks everyone for the answers! Didn't think I'd come back to this. I lost my account and found it just today, via magic. Good news is I'm now a normal young person who is not a ghost and is very glad to vomit at parties. I guess life can turn out to be better.
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