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How different cultural backgrounds in me respond to culture shock

It’s been almost 6 weeks since I arrived at Willamette University. Everyday I spend here is wonderful with new information of things I’ve never seen before. It’s my first article for the Willamette World News, and since I’m Ning, I want to start things in a different way.

I’m trilingual and my friends who speak more than 2 languages have always said that I sound and think totally diffent depending on the language I speak. It even seems like I have 3 split personality to some extent. Back home in China, I never really got chance to speak English and Japanese often, so my main personality was always the Chinese. However, things changed and I started using my second languages as frequently as my mother tongue.

Now, I think and react differently depending on which language I’m thinking within my brain. Something might seem normal and trivial to one ‘language’ while seems a big deal to another. It’s really interesting, because it seems to reflect the cultural background of that language.

I have to credit the fact that I have this kind of experience due to the fact that I grew-up in Shanghai, the modern metropolitan whose GDP contributes to 5.4% of the nation. Due to the political and historical background of being the first city to open its doors to foreign trade and having numerous concessions in the Bond, Shanghai is the most Capitalist city in China. In Shanghai, you barely see any signs of old Communist and people from Shanghai are more exposed to foregin culture than anywhere else.

While receiving education that tended to be more of Capitalist than Communist in Shanghai, I live in a family where all members, from the generation of my grandparents, are member of the Communist Party of China except me. The contradiction between school and home led to the formation of different personality inside me.

I would like to remind my readers that I am only attempting to characterize myself with these statements and am in no way making general overviews about the personalities of native speakers in the languages/countries mentioned.

Let me introduce you to my three different personalities!

English: Ususally known as ‘the Ning’ to my friends at Willamette. She’s positive, active, liberal, optimistic and open-minded, but usually gets over-excited and acts like a 12-year-old. She might sound blunt, rude and even offensive sometimes due to the limited skill of English. She’s a capitalist and a human-rights activist.

Chinese: Usually known as ‘elder sister Ning’ to my friends in China. She’s conservative, well-planned, easygoing and efficient. She has Confucian beliefs rooted deeply inside her and tries her best to act according to the Economic Man Theory. She might seem pessimistic and anxious due to over thinking. She’s the funniest among all if you could understand Chinese.

Japanese: Usually known as ‘Rin’ to my Japanese-speaking friends. She’s the most feminine among all as well as the most calm. Polite, diligent and obeys rules. She’s rational compared to other two.

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