One peaceful and beautiful night, an American boy, Sam and a Chinese boy, Li, met in the same dream with the god. ‘Do you want to experience a different life with a different identity in another country?’ the god asked. ‘That sounds great! Please let us try!’ they answered excitedly. The god smiled, ‘I will give both of you a chance to enjoy this wonderful one-day travel.’
Act one——Sam in China
My soul woke up within the body of Li in the dormitory of Li’s university. I was surprised to find that 4 people lived in this 20 square meter room. Oh, how crowded it was! After walking out into the city where the university was located, I discovered that almost all the buildings in the city were more than 6 stories tall. I could hardly find a single house with a garden, which was one of the most common phenomena in the U.S. The sky was cut into pieces by various roofs. People seemed like ants wandering in this crowded reinforced concrete forest. Living space between America and China was so different!
It was time to go to school! Before every class, Li’s friends would ask me to go to the lecture halls together. ‘Oh, dear! 4 people run between buildings. Why shouldn’t we act separately but always in a team? Is walking a team game? Won’t we look strange?’ But when I looked around the campus, I was amazed that so many students gathered in crowds and groups here. They walked, talked and laughed, which seemed so intimate. When I entered the canteen, the situation was almost the same. Most students sat with their friends at one table chatting over food. Although American students could be seen with friends, they still seemed to love to do things alone. Maybe to some extent, the space between people in the U.S. was larger than in China.
How different the two countries were!
Act two—– Li in the U.S.
What could I see through the window of Sam’s room was a beautiful garden with soft grassland and gloomy flowers. It was a small city named Davis in California. When I wandered along the quiet streets in Davis, I saw many cute houses painted in different colors. The scenery I saw in Sam’s house was very ordinary here. Smooth lawn, big trees and bright flowers were arranged well between houses. When I looked up, I could see a whole blue transparent sky. No skyscrapers. No crowded streets. Americans really owned pretty ample living space!
It was time for school. But when I walked into the classroom, I was surprised to find that many students sat alone silently without talking to others. After class, they quickly packed their books and dashed out of the room separately to the next lecture hall. ‘Do they have any friends? Do all Americans love to become lone wolves? It is so weird.’ I felt a little lonely and unhappy. It seemed like that I was not accepted by other students. But when I entered the canteen, I found that though some friends sat together, many students kept eating by themselves. Maybe it was not that they didn’t accept me but Americans were more independent with each other than Chinese? Maybe they loved to keep certain space between classmates, even friends.
The next morning, Sam and Li returned to their own bodies. How strange the experience was! China is a nation with much crowded living space, which makes it difficult for people to erect a spiritual barrier between the self and others. America is a nation with much larger living space. As a result, the mental space between people in the U.S. is relatively bigger than it in China!