Greetings from around the world!
The following students are English language learners currently enrolled in the University of Connecticut American English Language Institute (UCAELI). For one collaborative project with the Daily Campus in their Focus on Writing course, they were posed the following prompt: “Share something that you’d like the UConn community to know about your country.” Some students decided to write about important cultural concepts, others about societal differences they’ve noticed since moving to the U.S., and even more about current events related to their countries.
Please note that we have made every effort to publish their writing in its original, unaltered form for the sake of authenticity. Although the students have revised their work, minor grammatical or lexical errors may remain. After all, learning a second language is a lifelong process! We hope you enjoy their writing and learn something new today. Questions and comments towards the whole group or to an individual piece may be directed to the course instructor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sandra (Catalonia [Spain])
What can you do if you have an onion, a zucchini, some potatoes and some eggs? I have the best answer: make a Spanish omelet. This is a traditional dish from Spain and its real name is tortilla de patatas (potatoes omelet). You can eat it hot or cold, as a main dish or as a finger food, which makes it perfect!
The preparation is not as complicated as it seems; the potatoes are cut into thin slices, and then sautéed with extra virgin oil. If you want to add onion and zucchini, you will need to do the same with them. Both of the last ingredients are optional, but in my opinion, they are absolutely necessary for a good Spanish omelet. The essential ingredients are the eggs. You need to whip them and after add them to the softened potatoes, onion, and zucchini. This mixture is then returned to the pan and slowly fried, turning to fry both sides.
This last part is the most difficult: turn the omelet over. Curiously, this phrase is an idiom in Spain and its meaning is the radical change of an argument, conversation, or thought to make it more favorable to a person. Here, a similar idiom could be “turn the tables.”
This is one of my favorite dishes from the Mediterranean diet, which is one of the most well-balanced and healthy diets in the world in my view. Now you know what you can make if you have an onion, a zucchini, some potatoes and some eggs. I encourage you to make a Spanish omelet—you will not regret it!
In our common understanding, a wedding should have the church, the priest, wedding vows, the white wedding dress and the veil, the white or black suit and flowers and balloons. But compared to a Western wedding, a traditional Chinese wedding has some big differences. I would like to share some traditional customs in a Chinese wedding.
In the southeast of ancient China, there had been a moving traditional custom. It was said that when a baby girl was born in a family, her parents and grandparents would like to plant a small sapling nearby their house. When the small sapling grew into a big tree, other people looked at this tree and could realize this girl had already grown into a marriageable woman, and they had the chance to pursue and marry her. When this girl married, her family cut down this tree, and made two big wooden boxes. They put silk into them as her dowry, which meant her family wished she could have a happy marriage.
Just like how Western people believe that it is suitable for a holy wedding to use white because it represents purity and holiness, Chinese people believe that red is a happy, festive, enthusiastic, uniting color and usually use it in a Chinese wedding. Women wear red wedding clothes with a red veil, men wear red wedding clothes, and houses are decorated with red. Everything should be red. And it also has a special custom. On the wedding day, brides should stand in a certain place outside their home. A bride’s sisters or friends open a red umbrella and raise it over her head. This behavior is a blessing so that she will have one or more clever children soon.
Moreover, on the wedding day, brides and grooms have a hair-combing ceremony. A chosen woman who has living parents, children, a happy marriage, a united relationship between brothers and sisters and amicable relationships with friends is chosen to help. If the woman meets these conditions, she is able to comb the bride’s and the grooms’s hair, blessing them aloud. With the first combing, she says, “be blessed to be together to the end.” With the second combing, she blesses them with a hundred years of harmony in marriage. With the third combing, she blesses the bride and groom to have a house full of children and grandchildren. With the fourth combing, she blesses them with longevity.
So this is a traditional Chinese wedding. China has an extensive, profound, and long-standing history. And a traditional Chinese wedding is so amazing. I have just introduced the tip of the iceberg about traditional Chinese culture. If somebody is interested in learning more about traditional Chinese culture, I am willing to introduce more.
When I came to the United States, I found many cultural differences from China. Most of the people I have met in the United States are very polite. They always like to say sorry and use polite language. I like it. I think this makes the relationship between people more harmonious, and it makes me feel good. But in China, many people don’t have the habit of using polite language. Some of them think that others should be polite to them. They are self-centered.
On a different note, Chinese National Day is a very important festival. During this time, the vast majority of Chinese people will return to their hometowns. The state will hold a grand parade to show national strength and show that they have the ability to protect every Chinese citizen. Most Chinese families choose this time to travel. This year’s National Day has more than 700 million people out to travel. It’s so crazy.
So far, I have been in the U.S. for nearly two months, and I have seen a lot of differences between America and China.
First of all, in the U.S. I can see so many people running every day—they pay more attention to their health. When I went to the gym, I saw that the majority of Americans exercise, as opposed to the Chinese. When I saw this phenomenon, I realized the importance of health and the reason why Americans are stronger than Chinese.
I am also impressed by the learning environment in the U.S. Now I am at UCAELI; this means I must complete the language requirement before I can go to UConn. At UCAELI, I have met different people from different parts of the world, so I have so many chances to communicate with them by using English.
This is helpful to me because after I enter UConn, I will face different subjects such as math, economics, statistics and so on. If I have trouble with communication, maybe I cannot finish my schoolwork. However, in China, students always use Chinese to communicate with each other even though they are in the international department. They cannot improve their English skills such as listening and speaking. Therefore, I believe that studying in the U.S. is better than in China.