Contributions by Songyi Zhang

Banking

By | Prose, Songyi Zhang's America

In most cases, I find the customer service in America to be way behind China. Many stores here are understaffed; which means customers have to depend on themselves. While I was frustrated about whom to ask for help at Macy’s, I got marvelous service at American banks. As soon as I walk into a branch, …

American Homes

By | Prose, Songyi Zhang's America

A few years ago, an American friend of mine visited China and asked me why Chinese don’t want to have their own houses. I said we do. We save money for our lifetime just to purchase a decent apartment. (Owning property is not cheap in China, especially in cities.) Then my friend disagreed with me. …

Joggers

By | Prose, Songyi Zhang's America

One thing I notice in the U.S. is that Americans care about their workouts. Some people spend thousands of dollars buying exercise machines—exercise bike, treadmill, dumbbells, yoga mat, yoga ball, you name it—and make one of their family rooms into a gym. Some people like to run or jog outdoors regardless of weather. Rain or …

A Day in Colonial Time

By | Prose, Songyi Zhang's America

There is so much to learn about American history in colonial times. Our whirlwind visit to the prestigious town of Williamsburg, Virginia, on a breezy December afternoon was like galloping on a horse through a beautiful garden too swiftly to appreciate the details. Williamsburg is largely a recreation of the town as it existed in …

Graduation Celebration

By | Prose, Songyi Zhang's America

I’d heard about graduation proms before I came to America. I was shocked at first to see beautiful and expensive gowns for teenagers in Seventeen magazine. Why would parents allow their kids to spend extravagantly just for an evening ball? I can’t find any similar tradition for Chinese graduates. A class trip is probably the …

American Classroom

By | Prose, Songyi Zhang's America

Recently while chatting with friends and families from China, I’m often asked about my student life in America. I respond that it’s beyond belief how casual American students and professors are. You can sit Indian style with your legs tucked close to your body or with one foot propped on the chair. Some professors don’t …

Sex in America

By | Prose, Songyi Zhang's America

Never have I read such a large quantity of English books than during these two years when I am pursuing my master’s degree in creative writing. While I’m exposed to all sorts of media—TV, print publications, the Internet and others—in America, I’m shocked to learn that sex is openly discussed in this country. Compared to …

Magic Words

By | Prose, Songyi Zhang's America

Among many English words I learned as a beginner, the polite expressions, such as thank you, excuse me and I’m sorry, are used most often in my life and are also the most well-known to Chinese; even my father who doesn’t speak a word of English would say “Saw-ly” or “Fan-Q” to my English-speaking friends. …