America is strange and alien to most Chinese students. The strangeness of American life is either due to the short length of their experience in America or due to the enormous difference between the two cultures. High admiration of the West is mostly based on an affinity of Western science and humanitarian ideas, not real cultural participation and religious encounters (Wang 1992). Chinese students are strongly attached to China in social, cultural, and patriotic terms, and there is no change in identity while in America. Strong ties to home combined with a lack of knowledge about America leads to the severe social isolation (Xu 2006).
On one hand, Chinese students’ social interactions with American people tend to be limited. Most of them are socially isolated from Americans and immerse themselves in abstract technical learning (Chen 1979). On the other hand, most of them are structurally or socially segregated on a voluntary basis. They speak Mandarin Chinese and associate primarily with fellow Chinese students or those of similar socioeconomic status in their ethnic community (Tsai 1986). As a result, Chinese students inevitably are caught in a deep spiritual conflict between the professional world which is Western and Americanized and the private world which is related to Oriental and Chinese (Yeh 2000).
Student communities or Chinese associations in the United States are loosely organized and mainly engaged in academic matters, their work dependent on American academic atmosphere and research facilities, with very little organized communication with Chinese associations in China (Zhao 2005).