Language and behavior (shorter post)
With four years of living among American college students. I somehow met a friend who introduced me to an American college culture—fraternity. As I joined a fraternity, I have seen a lot of difference between college students in China and America. Overall, if there was one difference that cannot be ignored between American young adults and Chinese young adults, is that the ones in America are rowdy and they are somehow proud of it while the ones in China are generally behaving more quietly. For example, it is very normal to see American college students intoxicated and going on the streets and carry out some irresponsible behaviors while Chinese college students are more likely to keep things by themselves. I think this phenomenon has something to do with the language; In English, it is very common to describe someone in 20s as a “kid”. However, in Mandarin, even as a teenager, being called a kid by peers is a total insult. Maybe this is too shallow of an observation but I truly think it severely affects people’s behavior.
When it is okay to be called a kid by your friends, in our conscious, we subconsciously allow us to behave more like a real kid. When we make mistakes, it supposed to be easier for the society or even ourselves to forgive us because we are only college “kids”. Generally speaking, I think English speakers tend to act out when they are in a young age. On the other hand, I specifically remember that my father gave me a long talk after I peed on my neighbor’s door when I was 12 years old. My father was full of disappointment and said to me that this kind of behavior is only forgivable for children and I was no longer a child. I had not been called a kid by anyone ever since 15 years old before I came to America. So I think in our language, if we refer ourselves as kids, we would tend to behave like kids, but if we eliminate this factor, it would have some sort of impact on our behavior.
Picture source: http://abbybalik.com/tag/behavior