6. Personal space:Is a luxury in China, people bump into eachother all the time, buses, elevators and trains can be extremely crowded. It is just a way of life for a country with such a large population.
11. Drinks: Cold is weird and considered unhealthly (bad for your stomach). You will need to ask for cold beers and water in restaurants. Green tea is everywhere and coffee is becoming common place, though it is more associated with business culture. Alcohol is common, beer is cheap, western spirits not so much and the Chinese spirit of choice is called baijiu (white alcohol) and is sold in vast array of qualities and sizes. Baijiu's western equivalent would be roughly moonshine.
2. Queing: It is slowly getting better, but in many cases people just raise their elbows and push their way to the front of the line as best they can. This also goes for driving and many other such things, Chinese people are generally quite patient, except when there is a que involed then patience is not one of their virtues and an inbuilt "they are important and others are not" takes over.
This stems from years of faminine where lining up and not rushing to the front would result in one starving and dying.
5. Volume: Monks chanting and peaceful tradition are a stereotype that makes no sense, but thanks Hollywood. In China things are going to be noiser than you are used to, I promise. Drivers honk their horns incessantly and for nearly no reason. Fireworks are not a festival thing, you will hear them once a week if not daily (new businesses use them as a sign of goodluck) and Chinese people speak at a volume that confuses most westerners. Quite often with a newly arrived westerner I will be asked, after they see two Chinese having a converstion in the street, “why or what are they fighting about? ” and the reality is they are just having a conversation there is no anger or resentment it is simply just loud.
12. Driving and Pedestrians:You never have the right of way, you are responsible for your own safety and making sure not to get hit. It does not matter if you have the right of way in any situation vehicles trump people. This way of being has led most Chinese people to cross the street whenever they can rather than wait for lights to tell them to, because to them what is the point in waiting. In terms of driving there are rules, but few obey them. To the newly arrived it can feel chaotic and far from safe, but the chaos itself does create some sort of order. One of the biggest issues is if there is an accident even one that causes 4 (insert your currency here) worth of damage the two (or more) vehicles are left exactly where they were and clog up traffic for the next hour. Many of the newly arrived see the scooters everywhere and see how cheap they are, but almost all of them regret buying them after their first or second set of broken bones.
4. Spitting: Many Chinese men spit, I personally refer to them as the Chinese rooster as the first thing you can hear in smaller communities is some old Chinese man clearing his throat and spitting it somewhere. Growing up with a very British mother this little gem has always been an issue with me, but the reality is it is an issue with most Chinese as well, but this highlights Chinese people's patience for anything traditional they tend to say it has always been this way so just accept it, even when the majority trend to loathe a certain acitivity.
3. Littering:Some Chinese people litter like 14 year olds with a doting mother and this may be the root cause for the younger generation, as for the older it comes from a culture that sees cleaning up as someone else's responsibility.
10. Staring: You will be stared at, that is a reality, even pointed at. Those from and in big cities will not care too much, but those from the countryside are going to stare. You will hear the phrase waiguoren, laowai and if you are down south gwailo (that one is meant to be offensive) offense is not usually meant it is simple curiosty and if you of African heritage or sport blonde or red hair expect more staring.
13. Chinese: Or Mandarin, to those who think they are being PC (Chinese people use the word zhongwen 中文 meaning literally Chinese language,) is a very direct language. Thank you is something with meaning as is sorry, so to say it too much would give it no value. Simply remember that the person speaking does not intend to insult or show a lack of respect it is simply that Chinese does not work that way and the translation to English is quite often literal instead of cultural.
7. Food: I am a person who goes out of his way to eat the widest variety of foods possible, so China is great for me. As for most, you are in for a shock, the Chinese food you ate back home is not Chinese food and if it was, it was likely Cantonese food. In terms of Chinese food the country is extremely varied and comparing the south with the north is like me comparing Spanish and Russian cuisine simply because they are both in Europe. Where I live the people rarely eat rice (not what you think of when you think Chinese) as for those of you worried about ancient stereotypes like am I going to be eating dog. Not going to happen, I have eaten it, but it took me finding a specialized restaurant and having it preordered and the dog did not arrive for a couple of days and said restaurant was a North Korean restaurant。 The average modern Chinese is not very adventerous when it comes to food, basically pork, beef, some vegtables with rice or noodles and repeat that is it. They use the same 4 spices for everything. Though if you love exotic food then the Cantonese portion of China is definitely for you.
8. Passing wind: There is no nice way to address this one. Chinese culture sees passing wind as a normal bodily function, no matter the orifice, so expect it to be done in public without a second thought to the action and without a moment to say excuse me or pardon me.
9. Table manners: Chopsticks are not the only thing at the table that might be foreign to you.The manners might seem like they are coming from a different world. Chewing and speaking with your mouthful are not out of the ordinary, the sharing of food as well as the not cleaning up after yourself will likely leave you with a rude taste in your mouth (pun intended) this the way Chinese people are it does not mean you need to mimic, it just means complaining is ultimaletly a pointless exercise that in of itself is rude and the irony is lost on most travellers.
1. Issue number one is this intro. Now in China people tend to speak in a round about manner. No one says anything directly, this is meant to save face (we will discuss later), which means most Chinese people would tell me to be very reserved in my comments on cultural issues or negative remarks in regard to China, however as this website is not intended for Chinese people or the Chinese cultural that exists in China itself. I am going to be very forth coming as it is best for you to be able adjust before you come and realize whether you should be here or not.
First Stop Professionals
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