Making Chinese Friends as a Foreigner
As a foreigner in China, you will most probably want to make some Chinese friends since people are the key to learning a new culture and adapting. The ability to clearly communicate with people of different cultural backgrounds is such a vital skill that you must never overlook. Chinese people are more than happy to make foreign friends, but the process can be hard if you don’t speak Chinese. Most foreigners would love genuine Chinese friends and not the ones that make you feel used. Below are some of the ways to make Chinese friends.
1.Go out there
Really, if you want to make friends then there is no way you will achieve that by shutting up in your apartment all day and night, that’s pretty obvious. If you are feeling homesick or lonely and you do not know how to speak Chinese then you might start feeling that the only option you have is to stay in potato-couching hole indulging in some Netflix. Well, you just can’t let that happen to you. Don’t give in and just sit in your comfort zone. Why travel all those miles to such a beautiful country with rich culture only to sit in all day? If you want to make friends, leave your apartment and get out there.
2.Getting to know and bond with your classmates/colleagues.
Odds are that when you are living in China, you are probably studying or working. You definitely have classmates/colleagues probably around your age. Try spending some time with them outside the workplace or school. You can suggest eating out after class or work, and if you are a fan of karaoke, suggest hitting up KTVs on maybe a Friday night. Most Chinese adore KTV hence, this can be a great choice since you can bond over some music, food and drinks. Seeing a movie is another good option.
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3. Knowing exactly what kind of friends you want.
Having Chinese friends really makes your life more fun and interesting while in China. To some extent, they make your life much more bearable and easier. When you make great friends, they can be quite resourceful and help you figure out a lot of things, from showing you how to do something and helping you find something, or helping with your translation. The Chinese friends are exactly what you need to live and feel like a local, eat street food with them, and go shopping in the local markets together.
Lots of Chinese people are quite friendly and very much interested in making and meeting new friends from other places. This is mostly true with the younger college-going age but also with the older Chinese people. You can look for English Corner activities or cultural exchange clubs that you can join. These are all over the cities in China, but the easiest ways to get them is by joining WeChat groups and expat resources.
4.Taking a class
Do something new by learning another form of kungfu or Tai Chi, join a gym, learn to play Chinese chess or mahjong, or even take a calligraphy class. When you meet people that share the same interests, it can be such a great ice breaker and fun at the same time.
If you want to leverage your experience in China, then it’s imperative that you make a point of learning some Chinese or work on improving what you already know. The rule of thumb is, the more Chinese you can speak and understand, the more you will get out of your time in China and the easier it will get for you to meet and get to know new people. It’s quite impressive when you are trying to learn some Chinese, and this will make you score big with the Chinese locals.
6.Praise Their English
It is pretty hard to find Chinese people who speak proper English and if you happen to meet anyone trying to communicate in English, kindly praise it. Most of the Chinese people who speak proper English probably have some good guanxi which exposed them to the western world. Get interested and let them tell you their story and remind them how amazing they are.
7. Hang out and you’ll meet new people
By hanging out at a bar or other place where people are gathered, you can meet new people. Sometimes Chinese can be shy, especially towards foreigners so it may be best if you approach Chinese. Chinese are very friendly so once the ice is broken (and assuming communication is not an issue), it should be easy to have a conversation.
8. Being Humble and Respectful
So many people come to China with formed assumptions and ideas about the Chinese people, the government, and China itself as a whole. You will be surprised to find out how some of your assumptions are wrong. While others might be right, just remember to try and be open-minded, be willing to be challenged about some of your assumptions, and try as much as you can to avoid certain topics most especially politics.
Chinese people are quite appreciative when they realize that you are interested in their country, language, and culture, and show great humility when you present your ideas. When you’ve finally built a relationship with someone ,they will want to know with all honesty what you think about so many issues including controversial ones. In such a scenario, try to be very respectful to avoid falling out with your friend.
9. Make Chinese Friends Online
If you are looking for Chinese penpals online, the following sites might just be very useful.
This is China’s answer to twitter and it’s full of quite random stuff but as long as you enjoy the jokes and surprises, this is the best place to start looking.
This is the Chinese version of Quora and has broad topics, diversity of users, and more importantly, there is a constant generation of new material.
This is the Chinese version of Facebook and this where you will mostly meet students. This site majorly caters for college students.
Facebook was banned in 2009 in China following riots that were believed to be organized by the social media platform. Some Chinese, especially Chinese who have lived abroad are on facebook through the use of a VPN.
Making friends in China is just one step towards having one of the best experiences you can ever think of while in China. Chinese friends will make you feel like part of a community; they will assimilate you into their culture, teach you about their foods, games and their way of having fun. Making friends is not one of the fastest things you can ever do since it requires patience, being able to understand them, sincerity and getting interested in their way of life. It can be challenging but with an open heart and mind, you can have friends who are culturally different from you.