(This could be written about any country, but I write about China because its the country I’m living in now)
A lot of Chinese students tell me they would like to make some western friends to practice their English and to learn the culture. I think many of these people are finding it hard to meet new good western friends and they aren’t really sure why. Several people told me that their teacher suggested walking up to foreigners that they see on the street or in the subway, and just starting up a conversation. I have people come up to me all the time and ask me where I’m from, how long I’ve been here, and what I do in Shanghai. Some people even ask why I came to China or if I’m used to the food. I’d really like to share my opinions on this and I’m sure most foreigners would agree.
First of all, try to think of things from my point of view. I get asked these same questions all the time and its really quite boring and annoying to keep answering them. I’m not angry. I know that the people are trying to be very nice and friendly. The problem is just that the questions are a little boring and don’t make sense to ask a stranger. Nobody likes to feel that the only reason someone else is talking to you is because you are from a different country, or they want to practice their English. I like helping people with their English. Its a big reason why I make this free website. I just don’t like the feeling that I am in a conversation just because the other person wants to practice their English. Sometimes in a very short time these people will ask me if I would like to “make a friend” with them. I really don’t know what to say. I hate being rude, but the truth is that I really don’t want to “make a friend”. My friends are people who I like, have fun with, share some of the same interests with, and learn from. None of them are people who “just wanted a friend”.
Here is another thing that people need to understand. Being kind and friendly is not enough to make a friend. I know there are millions of very nice people here who I don’t want to become close friends with. Of course I can talk to them and be nice, but I still won’t want to become close friends. All of my friends are people who I can laugh with and people who I can communicate with. Nice but boring is not enough. We must interest each other. Otherwise we wouldn’t become friends.
If you want to make western friends, you need to find westerners who share some of your interests and ideas. You can find them in the places that hold these activities. For example, if you are really serious about working out you might be able to find some friends with similar interests at the gym. You can also find people in your city in different social networking websites. You can read their profiles online and see if they seem like someone who has similar interests.
If you don’t have any interests or activities you like to do then you should get some. This is not only to make friends with westerners but its just a good idea anyway. I’ve read many profiles of people online who say their hobbies are sleeping and watching TV. I always smile and laugh when I read this. I’m sure you can imagine that it doesn’t make me think I’d like to be friends with them.
I respect Chinese culture a lot, but none of my friends would be considered “traditional Chinese” people. I am just too different for them. We are always friendly too each other but we usually don’t become close friends. I like to be with people who love trying new things, thinking about new things, and talking about any topic in detail. I’m quite open this way. I’ve grown up this way for all my life and its what makes me happy and comfortable. I get bored easily.
I think the point to remember is that you should find western friends the same way you make friends with people in your own country. Don’t try to make friends because they are westerners but rather because they are people you are interested in and enjoy being with. That is the only way you will make real friends. Its perfectly ok to be very traditional and you might find some western people to become close friends with. I just want to say that the Chinese people I see with the most western friends are the ones who are the most adventurous and the people who seem to be the most comfortable in any kind of conversation. If you get more interested in trying new things you would probably have an easier time making more western friends. If you don’t want to do that, that’s fine too, it just might make it a little more difficult to find close western friends.
Your comments are very appreciated.