(Ir)regular viewing – Week 19

Due to personal issues, in the past two weeks I haven’t watched Chinese on most days. From May 22 to June 1, I watched Mandarin videos on only 4 out of 11 days. However, I watched 3 movies (2 on one night), so my average time did not go down too much. I’m still at an average of close to 35 minutes per day at the 136th days of my experiment.

Still, I’m slightly frustrated because I think the best strategy (within the parameters of my experiment) would be to watch some Mandarin every single day, and Qiao Hu on most days. I’ve actually done the opposite recently—watched subtitled movies sporadically—and I don’t feel like I’ve progressed much.

Here’s a picture of me watching Qiao Hu with Camila Daya using me as a sofa so that she could watch, too.

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She likes to watch videos in the oddest positions, and she really got a kick out of using me as a piece of furniture. I’ll often catch her upside down, with her head on the sofa seat and her legs up in the air, while watching TV. It’s hilarious.

As I’ve commented before, a huge upside to watching movies is that I feel like I’m becoming more and more familiar with Chinese culture. Of course I’m just barely scratching the surface, but I thought about writing about my insights thus far in this post. My general idea was to single out certain characteristics of Chinese culture that are either similar or different from Western culture. However, even if I were explicit about these “findings” being preliminary, I think this would be hugely premature. I just don’t have much to say as yet.

I’m very hesitant about coming to sweeping conclusions even about the culture of countries I’ve lived in for a decade or more (Brazil and the United States), so commenting on even preliminary findings about the culture of a country I’ve never even visited or studied, but only caught glimpses of by watching a handful of subtitled movies, would probably be downright silly.

Instead, I’d like to ask my readers to begin the discussion. For those of you who have lived in China or otherwise had contact with the culture, what are your impressions? Are the Chinese essentially different from or the same as Europeans, Americans, Latin Americans, other nationalities, etc.? In what ways? I will give you my own impressions, however superficial and limited they might be, when I get farther along in my experiment.

6 thoughts on “(Ir)regular viewing – Week 19

  1. Sofia says:

    I just read this and last week’s posts. Very interesting. It seems inevitable that during/after this experiment, China will somehow become a big(ger) part of your life. I wonder where it will lead to personally, professionally, psychically.

    • Yes, and it’s probably karmic hehe. I’m sure I will want to travel there, if nothing else. And if I get through the full listening experiment, no doubt I’ll want to continue my studies and learn to speak, at least. So that will affect me professionally in government and in the language institute.

  2. Greta Browne says:

    I lived in China in 1946 – 48, when I was just a little girl. I have no impressions regarding the people and culture of China from that time. However due to my life-long interest in China I’ve read a lot about its people and culture and would venture to say that as an ancient country in comparison to the United States and Brazil its people have certain enduring traits and a characteristic culture. On the other hand, China is a large country with a variety of connections to bordering countries, so similar to the US, Brazil and other large countries, there will be various cultures within the country.

    • Good points. China’s connection to history might be similar to European countries, or perhaps even more intense, and unlike the US and Brazil, as you say (where I believe people are much more future-oriented). But you also point to an important similarity – the size of the country, meaning not only cultural but even tremendous geographical diversity.

  3. David says:

    I would agree with Greta and Victor … although I don’t think that the people in China are any less future-oriented than people in the US or Brazil (I have to admit that I’ve never been to Brazil though). China is a constantly changing place and I am under the impression that lately the society is also in a tremendous transformation. To me it seems that the Chinese people are more and more emancipating themselves and start to live their lives more independently and a little more freed from values and ways of thinking of their grandparents and parents. If you go to the big cities as Shanghai or Chongqing you wouldn’t dare thinking that the people there are not as much future-oriented as Western people. However, Chinese people seem to also embrace and cherish their culture and traditions a lot more than Western people. The Chinese friends and acquaintances I have seem to be very proud of their culture and the history of China as it is one of the oldest if not the oldest cultures in the world. Seems like the best of both worlds: Looking into the future and yet know where you’re coming from 😉

    • Indeed, China is growing and transforming so quickly that it would seem strange to say that the Chinese are more past than future oriented. And—while all my comments on China are mere conjecture—it seems that the Chinese (probably correctly) expect to become an economic, military, and cultural superpower in the near future. However, it seems that these expectations are largely based on Chinese history and traditions. In other words, the Chinese’s expectations for the future are greatly informed by their understanding of the past, more so than occurs in New World countries.

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