What Xi’an Looks Like in the Eyes of Foreigners
Published:2018-11-22
 

C:UsersAdministratorDesktop\u56fe片15.png

Luo Fei and Ni Lin have a taste of the ice cream based on the “traditional” Shaanxi spicy oiled food and get the eating filmed

C:UsersAdministratorDesktop\u56fe片16.png

Stalin attends a live show of “Roujiamo-eating Competition” during the “Double 11” shopping festival

Do you know what the show “Foreigners in Xi’an” is all about? Take a look at the more than 50 episodes one month after the update of the program, it is our conclusion: These young foreigners do it themselves to make the short videos by which in an easy manner differences between eastern and western cultures are “shown”, questions are answered, what Xi’an looks like in the eyes of foreigners, how foreigners receive the Chinese cultures, and many other cultural differences that are beyond our imagination.

Expat “actors” talk about cultural difference of the East and the West

It was the morning of a sunny day, which saw Luo Fei came out of gym to the Shaanshisan Ice Cream Shop at Qujiang, waiting for a trial tasting of the “traditional” food of Shaanxi. Coming from the distant Barbados, an island country surrounded by the Caribbean Sea in the Central America in his own words, where there is plenty of sunshine and sports are the daily necessity. That’s why he has dark skin and strong physique.

The reason for the word “traditional” being placed within a quotation mark was that as the most typical local seasoning of Shaanxi, the red hot sauce has been made a spicy ice cream as an innovative creation by the shop. But could a foreigner take it who doesn’t often eat spicy food?

“Is this the Shaanxi food you tell us about?”At the site of the filming, the camera was tracing a secret food, which was sent before Luo Fei and Ni Lin. The opened aluminum cover revealed that there was a piece of waffle inside, on which lied two orange ice cream balls, which looked very enticing amid the black sesame. They scooped the ice cream and had a bite which caused screams one after another. “We have underestimated it, how come the taste of an ice cream is like that? Spicy?” Luo Fei found himself unable to bear the pungency after taking a big bite of the ice cream.

“We seldom have touch with peppers in our daily food, some vegetable peppers are used for decoration only, and we hardly touch the real spicy food,” said Ni Lin, a girl with fair skin who was from Russia and made a sharp contrast with Luo Fei. She told the reporter that European people can hardly bear hot food and they usually enjoy sweet food; that the staple food for them is made of wheat that contains rich sugar and provides a sweet taste.

She also told the reporter that before the filming she would do some homework to give a clear and professional account of the cultural difference and the specific lifestyle in the short video.

With video shooting one can deeply understand things they have come to understand

Have you ever taken preserved eggs of China? What is the taste of fermented tofu? Is it so stinky that it is hard to swallow? Do foreigners wear long underwear pants or do they refuse to wear them no matter how cold it is? Have you taken hot pot? Will you accept the hot and spicy Sichuan cuisine? Can foreigners accept the juiced bean jelly, the “dark cuisine” of Shaanxi food? ”For each episode, we have different topics prepared.The current topic contains elements of Shaanxi food, and in the section of foreigner.

experience we give the reply to Chinese audience for the question: Do foreigners eat spicy food?” said Zhang Liangyuan, screenwriter and director of the current episode. She also said that a short video, if made properly, is done exactly as the longer version, with various crew members doing their jobs included; that the “actors” from different countries share their attitudes and opinions on the lifestyle and cultural difference.” 

“During the ‘Double 11’ shopping festival, I attended a live show with another partner Stalin, where he ate numerous Roujiamo (a hamburger-like snack) to show his preference of this local delicacy of Xi’an,” said Ni Lin, and the Stalin in her description was a popular protagonist in the show “Foreigners in Xi’an”, but unlike Luo Fei and Ni Lin both of whom are the students of Xi’an Jiaotong University, Stalin is from Northwestern Polytechnical University.

“The Chinese culture in my understanding is standing on ceremony, mutual modesty, which shows a strong kindness. As Stalin said, the lifestyle in the West shows our self-awareness and you could say that we are not hypocrites and follow our hearts. However, these contrasts are made to the majority of the Chinese culture, but not the whole.” In Xi’an, in the stay with more Chinese people, I see the hospitality and modesty, which are the virtue. But to see the people in my country, they will not take the thing this way, but believe that yes, you do not want it, so I take it instead.” Stalin recalled his early days in Xi’an for higher education when he was baffled by the culture and behavioral habits of local people, which can only be understood after deepening understanding from both sides. “During my years in Xi’an, I have learned how to stand on ceremony, enjoyed the interpersonal relations here, and we got on well with each other.”

Life in Xi’an is shared in the media matrix 

At the filming site, Fan Wen, the person in charge of the show “Foreigners in Xi’an” told the reporter about the origin and goal of the show. “We want to make more audience know more about the conflicts and exchanges of cultures between the east and the west, whether it is food, behavior or words, we would like them to be told in a casual manner.”

“I have contacts with many foreign friends due to my work. In our chats the Chinese people would like to ask foreigners questions, so cultural differences have to be bridged by mutual communication and understanding. That’s why we get an idea for making short films on life and work of the foreigners in Xi’an or China, so that more Chinese people can know what Xi’an looks like in the eyes of foreigners, and at the same time, more foreigners can know more about oriental cultures and understand our behaviors,” said Fan Wen.

Fan Wen also said that so far there have been 14 foreigners who are capable of acting in competent Chinese, but that in fact they do have a larger circle of friends which includes 1,116 foreigners, who are now based in Shaanxi, with the majority staying in Xi’an engaged in a variety of careers, such as foreign teachers, scientists, businessmen, etc., most of them being international students, who are younger, with more active mentality and higher enthusiasm for knowing Chinese cultures.

“Most of such international students have been here for more than two years. They are both strange to and familiar with China, with a longing for the life and culture here, so they are willing to have a try in everything driven by their curiosity,” said Fan Wen, adding that to this end, they have established a studio, where colleagues can stay together and do something in spare time for spreading eastern and western cultures. So far, a media matrix “Foreigners in Xi’an” has been formed, which is made up of social media of Weibo, WeChat and Tik Tok.

“We adopt different approaches for different social media, for example, the short videos released on Tik Tok is more on the recreational and entertainment side, the WeChat public account is more on “Story of China and Me”; we release information about activities of foreigners in Xi’an and share their life here,” said Fan Wen, noting that without the commercial promotion and recommendation by the platforms, the show has gained 130,000 followers in the first month since being on air, with 1.4 million likes received, showing the high popularity.

“During my five years in Xi’an, I have seen with my eyes the growth of the city and of myself, and Xi’an has become the second home of mine,” said Ni Lin. “I am going to graduate soon, but I feel reluctant to leave. The changes in the city are rapid and upward, I like Xi’an very much and hope it can offer us more opportunity for me to live and grow here.”

[Source:Xi’an Daily]