My name is Siyu. I was born and raised in Beijing, and I’ve spent last 10 years traveling, studying and working abroad in the US, UK, and France. Many people that I met were curious about China, but their impressions of China would end up with words like ‘communist,’ ‘pollution’ and ‘no Facebook.’ While many facts are true, the contemporary, living and multifaceted Chinese life is rarely heard of.
I started “tiny eyes” comics a year ago in the hope of sharing Chinese culture through everyday life, To me, learning about other cultures has always been a fun experience, and I want to pass this feeling to people who are curious about China. In lots of my comics, I compare Chinese culture to western culture. Through comparison, we realise how differently we act in front of the same situation and how we tend to think in a certain way instead of another. In the end, every culture is “weird” in its way, but it’s also the weirdness that makes it interesting.
I post regularly every week, and I share slices of my personal life and experience through Instagram. I hope you enjoy!
More info: Instagram
I’ve experienced student dormitories in three countries: In the U.K. I have my own private room with shared public space; In the U.S. I shared my dorm with one roommate; In China, I used to live with 5 girls in the same room. This lack of privacy must be shocking for some of you, but in a country with 1.3 billion population, space is always a problem. While there are many inconvenience not having enough private space, on the bright side, sharing a room with someone also makes you learn quite a deal about communication, responsibilities and tolerance.
Maybe you have heard that Chinese eat cats. A few horrible people in some obscure places maybe, but the majority, NO!!
In China, people don’t say anything after someone sneezes.
It’s hard for Chinese to directly express their love to their families and friends. Instead of saying love, we show care to the health of people we love, ask them if everything goes well, and buy nice things to make their life more comfortable. In history, Confucius enforced social orders by putting people in different relations/obligations, but the expression of personal feelings was never encouraged. Emotions need to be under control. How do you show people that you care about them?
It takes me sometime to get used to making constant eye contact when talking to people. Traditionally, Chinese people tend to avoid direct eye contact when talking to each other, which is a way to show respect and obedience, but in lots of western cultures, especially in English-speaking countries, avoiding eye contact signifies hesitation and dishonesty. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)
We also have spoons, people!
Beauty = Thin. “Gaining weight” brings absolute horror for many Chinese girls, even though most of them are already considered thin in other cultures. I’ve seen girls who eat only one apple a day and who drink special tea (which makes you go to toilet 20 times a day) in order to lose weight in a very short time. Movie stars and super models are pushing this aesthetic to its extreme through mass media. When will we be able to simple enjoy being who we are?
Chinese people love their food, they spend lots of time savouring and enjoying their meals. Food is not just “fuel” for the body, but a pleasure, an art, and a way of socialising. If you want to make friends, go eat. If you want to close a business deal, go eat. If you want to pursue a romantic relationship, go eat. Since ancient times, food has been considered priority in Chinese culture. The government’s goal was to make sure that each person is taken care of and “has enough to eat”. From another angle, it also suggests the realistic character of Chinese: food goes before ideas, and this life is more important than after life.
Chinese have trouble taking compliments from other people, because they are raised to be humble, to be self-reflective, and to not stand out from the crowd. So when someone notices you and makes a compliment, you tend to lose the inner balance and get nervous very quickly.
Can you name a classic Chinese design or a brand? Probably difficult. But have you bought anything “Made in China”? Very likely yes. Chinese products are often associated with the word “cheap” and not high quality, sadly. Many aspiring local designers have been trying to create original and valuable products, but problem such as the lack of copyright protection has complicated the process. Still a long way to go.