Making friends in China could be quite difficult, especially when you still have some resistance toward the local culture and mannerism. Not saying that yours is any better than the locals, but to me it’s all about the process of seeing the difference with the perspective of wisdom, then probably make some little adjustment..compromises..and live with it lightly.
I don’t know how about you, but it was like that to me. My process of adaptation was not ‘total football’ (borrowing European or ‘world’ football term of total playing). Outside, yes I can meet up and hang out with about anyone and have fun, have (only) light and social conversation, enjoy the living itself, fascinated by sincerity of many people on the streets or public places, make a very few friends with the locals..and so on..but inside I still had feeling like ‘I can not make a real friendship here’. Well, maybe I just have a problem with my definition of ‘a friend’ or ‘friendship’. Maybe it’s just me who are being a bit careful and deep, so it tends to be picky. Maybe this and that..
But, was not so bad at all. My first 2 years in northern china, I made a few decent relationships with locals. We can maybe say it’s a beginning of friendship. It has potential of being a good ones. Only, we didn’t have much time to keep maintaining it since we had to move to another province. But, out of all, I am glad I did make a very good one with one local. She was actually one of hubby’s acquaintance when he was still single, but she is a decent person so I didn’t mind at all to keep the relationship from his acquaintance to our friend. Time and moments proves that we all deserve to be each others friend. To me it was growing from ‘I respect her’ to ‘I like her and would like to make friend with her’.
So, again time and moments has brought us all to a very fond friendship. She is basically the longest one that we (and I–sometimes we can make ‘friend’ as a couple but not as individual) made friends with during our China living. I can now say she is my 1st Chinese best friend. She is sincere, well-informed, has relatively wide knowledge, kindhearted, willing to learn many things, relatively open to new culture, very helpful and thoughtful, good sense of humor, and many more good things that we think not so many people here possess. Her name is LY. She is married now but we never had a chance to meet up with her boyfriend at the moment, she was too shy for that, I think. We’ve done and spent time quite lots during total of 2.4 years back there. She’s like a sister to me. I just love her!
I can clearly see someday in the future both hubby and I visit the city again to (1) have a nostalgic moments in our first home in China, and (2) definitely see her and her family to catch up lots of stuff.
Here in Xian. After spending more than 2 years in another part of China, things are lots easier to me to accept and learn. I’m so glad that I am finally able to put some more wisdom to my perspectives. I am glad that I can now surrender my thought and heart to accept China living fully. To enjoy China to the fullest. So, my mind is now open much wider to learn the language–I used to have mental block with the traditional characters, my heart is much warmer and receptive to the friendship with locals. The more wisdom I put, the easier it feels to learn the language and make new friends here. Not to mention that more people here can speak very good at least English–can’t expect anyone here speaks Indonesian of course, haha..plus they are relatively more aware about the world then are ready to accept different cultures. So, in just one year, I’m making more friendship potentials with locals than 2 years back up north. Three of them are our neighbors. They’re just cool and decent ones to make friends with.
One is a lady about my age–she’s a year older–who spent 7 years studying in Itali. She has a baby and now we become friends with them both. Her husband–who spent 5 years living in Singapore, eventhough we’ve never met once yet, he’s pretty generous giving us a VIP card with free credits to spend in their new executive lounge somewhere in the city.
Other than her and her baby, there is a couple who live just next door in our apartment building, they both speaks English well. They’re just a few years younger than us. The wife is with a few months pregnancy. They’re nice and very helpful. Another one is a lady I think about my age, she had been living in Singapore for a few years and decided to come back here in Xian.
They are people who I’d like to start with here in the city. As locals, they’re young enough to be ready to accept some new cultures within the friendship, also mature and well-informed enough to know courtesy and maintain the relationships with a mix or global standards. I can feel there is mutuality there with them. I won’t hesitate to introduce new way/style in doing stuff together. And I don’t mind to learn and do it their way as well.
Please don’t get me wrong, when you’re living in a different country where you’re the one who has to swallow locals culture and do things only in their way–most of the time, that feels like unfair to me. I imagine myself being in Canada for example, things would probably be much easier since the culture over there is pretty much like a melting pot..it’s a ‘new’ mix culture that was slowly built for harmony and stability in life (along with long history of its immigration policy), instead of by superiority of any dominant/majority culture. How about Indonesia? It is still understandably the same as in China.