As someone born and raised in China who only moved to Ireland at the age of 20, I did have an usual experience when I first came to Ireland by myself. I had an interview with Farzan Safavi the other day covering some of the culture shocks, stereotypes, and racism that I’ve experienced here in Ireland. Here’s our conversation:
F: I’m looking for Chinese students abroad who are successful and would like to share their experience with my class. Would you like to volunteer and be interviewed?
C: Sure. I’d love to. Another way to market myself.
F: Haha great. I’m great our path crossed.
F: Where you from in China?
C: I’m originally from Zixing, Hunan.
F: Aw nice I’m living in Guiyang known for its spicey food and clean air. Can you tell how you got into Ireland’s? Scholarship or you paid?
C: Thanks for the question. My college back in China has a 2+2 program with AthloneIT here. I applied for it and got accepted and came here in 2015. I had to pay for everything myself though.
F: Pros and cons living in Ireland?
C: Pros: quiet and peaceful country. There’s no terrorist attacks here. People are nice and friendly. Ireland is one of the least racist countries on earth. Especially to us Chinese. Ireland is beautiful. Fresh air. No pollution. Cons: Dublin is not cheap. Ireland is a small country. The infrastructures are a bit underdeveloped compared to China. E.g. Public transports are expensive and slow. No underground metro.
F: How did you adapt to a different culture?
C: The culture here is quite different. I got a bit depressed the first year when I came here. I never drank when I was in China but I got some drinking problems after I came here. Clubbing is fun but a bit bad for your health.
F: Interesting. I’m also struggling a little in Guiyang, but I love the students. They are hard working and intelligent.
F: How long are you in Ireland now? I think clubbing is better in China.
C: I’ve been here for nearly 2 years now. I’ve been to Shanghai and that was one of the very few cities where clubbing is really a thing. But the drinks are so expensive there. It’s very different culture-wise. In China, the student unions never organize nights out in a club. They might go for karaoke but never to a club. It’s just not something students do. Whereas here, that’s part of the students life. I still remember I started going out like 3 or 4 nights a week when I first came here.
F: Yes or you don’t do any project based courses, practical work or volunteer abroad. China is modern yet traditional in many aspects. Studying in the west is mostly practical while in China it is mostly theory based on paper but we are here to change that.
C: Yeah. I really did enjoy studying here. I was originally planning to do a master’s in Canada. Got the offer from university of Toronto but then I got a very nice job offer from Amazon and I just couldn’t turn it down.
F: Haha. You can always study. Gain some industry experience. And have both.
C: Yep, maybe after a few years I’ll go study again.
F: To do a PHD?
F: Aw awesome. What do you think of discrimination? My students feel Chinese are being discriminated abroad.
C: I used to think like that as well, but studying here has really changed how I see things. A lot of the times we Chinese people assume we are the marginalized group and make assumptions about how we’re going to be discriminated against. But here in Ireland it’s actually really rare. Even though I’ve had a couple of times where I felt a bit less then, but it’s mostly on the dating field, I wouldn’t shout racism at people if they just don’t feel attracted to me. But it did make me feel bad about myself. The counselor in the college helped me a lot with that.
F: Aw dating is different, many people many not approach you because of fear or lack of confidence. I’m sure you will find the luck girl/guy one day. You’re smart :)