Qinghua Han ‘Devoted’ to American Culture–Except for Sour Cream!

Elizabeth Bolin, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Often the quietest people have the most interesting thoughts and NDA’s senior exchange student Qinghua Han (Mark) exemplifies that truth.

This is Han’s fourth year on exchange, and he hails from Beijing, China’s capital.

“It is a big city with both skyscrapers and small alleys. I live in an area that has advanced technology and varied ideology. It is normal to see Korean people, Americans and other foreigners in the region where I live,” he said.

Han came to America for a few reasons, aided by the fact that he has a knack for the English language.

“I wanted to broaden my horizon and experience the culture and differences here. Besides learning the language, I found myself devoted to American culture, such as Halloween, Christmas and all kinds of different food. I finally decided to go to America and study the profound ideology and advanced knowledge.”

Life in Green Bay is much different from Beijing.

“I like every American food, such as chicken wings, tacos, all kinds of cheese. The burger is totally different than what they make in China. The meat is way better here. However, sour cream is the only thing that I hate. I do not want to see any sour creams.  They smell gross, look gross and taste gross,” he said with emphasis.

Han also feels similarly about yogurt.

The faith aspect of NDA was a culture shock for Han.

“I was forced to take four years of religion class here in NDA, which was actually very helpful in understanding the American culture. I am not a Christian or Catholic, so I had no idea what you guys were talking about at the beginning. I didn’t even know who Jesus was!”

Han also enjoys the different holidays we celebrate here. “We have Spring Festivals, a shifting to the new calendar that is normally in February. I enjoyed Christmas, Halloween and Thanksgiving especially. Turkey!! Oh yeah, and Easter. Chocolate!!”

Han feels lucky to have the opportunity to live with an American family and experience everyday American life. “I like Notre Dame, especially the teachers,” he said.

However, he admitted to having some difficulties connecting with the non-exchange students here.

“It is just hard to communicate with them. It seems like that it is not only the skin color, but the brains function differently. It’s not simply the language differences. It’s more of a conflict of ideas.”

Han has close friends and likes to spend his time playing video games and spending time with his host family and friends. “I do not want to go outside because it is cold!” he exclaimed.

Han enjoys playing sports like soccer, basketball and swimming. He hopes to study biomedical engineering at an American college.

The hardest part about being an exchange student for Han is the feeling of alienation he has experienced being a foreigner in a high school… “And sour cream. Terrible creature. It was the end of the world when I first tasted it.”