In the shoes of others

I want to learn more about the people who live in here

- As a Chinese student, I think there is an impression that Chinese people like to gather together, that they always make Chinese friends or make friends with a same background, asian people in general, though it's not always the same culture background. But actually when I came here I was really eager to make friends with western countries people, and I don't know... it's a little bit hard.

- Have you tried to make the first step to befriend non-asian people?

- Hum yes, like talking to you! (laughing)

- That's one step! (laughing)

- Maybe I'm a little shy, mostly because I'm not very confident with my language skills, but I think it has changed since this summer, I've made an academic internship with a PhD student who is Scottish, and I feel like we can talk very well... So I found that maybe if you get close to other people and learn more about each other, you find out that cultural differences or different cultural background is not a big problem to make friends. Maybe the first step is very difficult, but if you make the first step then...

- Yes... Most of your friends here are asian then?

- Yes.

- How have you befriended them, did you ask « Are you Chinese? » and you started from there?

- Oh not even, you just look and know that he or she is Chinese. (laughing) I think having the same language is a very strong bond, you can also talk about things like the same food, which is a very dominent thing in culture... now, how to make the first step, how can I open a topic with people from other cultures...

- Do you have any clue?

- Very interesting thing with my PhD student partner is that the first topic we talked about was coffee.

- Food again! (laughing)

- Yeah, because we both like coffee and I feel like in China and UK we have quite a different coffee culture. Surprisingly he has worked in a coffee shop and we talked about coffee.

- It sounds like a perfect start! I'm wondering, what makes you want to interact with foreigners?

- Curiosity. I think it's very intuitive, you come to another culture, you want to know more about it, you don't just want to be a visitor or a tourist. I want to participate in the life of this environment, I want to learn more about the people who live in here, who have different cultures...

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These are the contributions to a social project to promote empathy and fight discrimination.

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