Welcome to my latest series: China Culture Shock!
Part of the reason I was interested in moving to China in the first place was to explore a culture completely different from my own. I wanted to experience “culture shock” and challenge myself. I’ve been living in China for almost two years now, and I’m still constantly experiencing things that shock me, or just don’t make sense. Here is a collection of my crazy stories and cultural insights as I explore this mystifying nation.
Most of us from Western countries have a very specific and traditional image of monks. We think they’re solemn, living frugal lives filled with meditation and prayer. While in some ways this is true, monks like to have fun just like the rest of us!
In China I’ve seen monks playing basketball, and young monks wearing flashy tennis shoes. A lot of monks are very friendly and outgoing, and enjoy meeting foreigners.While monks dedicate their lives (or at least a few years) to prayer, many of them are just the same as any other Chinese person.
A few weeks ago I spent the weekend in Wuzhen, a traditional Chinese river town. I went with an organized trip through my university’s travel club. While some trips are open to all students, this particular one was limited to international students. While I normally don’t like to travel on organized tours, this trip was a really good deal financially, and I thought it would be a great way to make some new friends. There were about forty of us on the tour, from all different nationalities.
On our last day we were wandering through the old city, when we ran into a large group of monks. I’ve been in China for a few years, so monks are no big deal to me. But for the rest of my foreign friends, the sight of a large group of monks was very exciting.
While my classmates were excited to see a large group of monks, the monks were even more excited to see such a large and diverse group of foreigners. To my surprise, the monks immediately whipped out their smartphones and started taking selfies and group photos with all of the students!
Of course, the frenzy of foreigners posing for pictures attracted a bunch of Chinese tourists, who began taking pictures of us with the monks on their own smartphones. The photoshoot of monks, foreigners and Chinese tourists lasted for about forty-five minutes.
Only in China!!!
Have you ever had a “culture shock” moment with monks? What about a huge swarm of people turning a few pictures into a photoshoot? Tell your story in the comments!