Let’s not beat around the bush or sugarcoat it. Moving to China can cause serious culture shock. Whether it’s the food, the climate, or the way people talk to each other, China life can take some getting used to. There are several things I really couldn’t get my head around when I first came here that I’ve learned to love over the years. Here are six things I used to hate about China.
When I first moved here, I thought I loved Chinese food. Except the Chinese food I loved was the Chinese food I’d grown up with in the West. I loved the fried noodles, the sweet and sour pork, and the chicken with sweetcorn, but I couldn't handle the spicy and exotic dishes that turned out to be ‘real' Chinese cuisine. I also used to get annoyed that when eating in a group, I couldn’t just order my own dish like I would back home. Everyone was expected to share.
Now I can't stand the bland bastardized versions of Chinese dishes that I get in the restaurants back home. What’s more, I love the huge variety and complexity of the myriad Chinese cuisines, and I’ve also learned to love the Chinese way of family-style eating, which allows you to try lots of different dishes and control how much you eat. Plus, having everyone gathered around a Lazy Susan is a super social way of enjoying a meal.
When I first moved here, my mind was blown by the cross-country train journeys in China. They were longer than most international flights and I hated being on a train for that long. I used to face the train rides in China with more dread than I would a long haul flight.
Now I love those long rides, as they provide a rare chance to really stop, read a book, take stock of things, or to catch up on correspondence with family and old friends. You also get to see the country pass by your window and can use the time to practice your Chinese with other passengers. Train rides in China give you a great insight into daily life and Chinese culture.
I truly underestimated how the weather in China can switch from one extreme to the other. On moving to southern China, I sweated miserably through spring, summer, and most of autumn, and then found myself cold and miserable with no central heating in winter. There was no enjoyment to be had in that weather.
I started to appreciate the weather a lot more when I changed the way I looked at it, however. During the summer, I now go to an outdoor pool for the day and pretend I’m in a holiday resort. In the autumn, I go to the park for late afternoon strolls or picnics. In the winter, I take advantage of the cooler climes and go hiking. How you feel about the weather depends on how you use it.
Like most expats in China, I initially found learning Mandarin very frustrating and was depressed by how difficult it was. The characters seemed impossibly intricate, while the subtle tones seemed like a practical joke played on unwitting foreigners.
Now, I've learned to not stress about the language. Over time, it gradually starts to make more sense. Learning about the characters is fascinating and there’s a level of history and culture to each one that’s incomparable to any Western language. I've also found that I express myself naturally in Chinese at times, even when back home, just because some Chinese phrases perfectly sum up an expression or feeling better than English ever could. I’ve learned to have fun with the limited grasp on the language I have and not worry too much about the vastness of what I don’t know.
When I came here, I was so confused about daytime napping culture. All my colleagues were sleeping at their desks after lunch and I just thought they were unprofessional. Naps were for babies and hungover people.
Now, while I still don't nap at work, I get it from a practical point of view, especially when you consider how hard so many people work here. I have to admit that I've even started to take naps at home on the weekend…
Massages are not a very common pastime for people in my home country, especially not for men. Massages are associated with spa days and spa days are for women. Massages are such a big part of Chinese culture, but it was a part that I was uncomfortable with trying, especially with the stigma surrounding massages and prostitution.
Now I love a good massage (of the wholesome variety). A quick foot and shoulder rub can do a world of good when you’re stressed out with work or achy from the gym, and there are few places in the world where massages are as readily available, affordable, and good. They also provide a fantastic opportunity to practice your Chinese, as you’re one-on-one with a masseuse for an extended period and have their undivided attention.
Are there any other things you’ve grown to love about China? Tell us in the comments section below.
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Keywords: hate about China
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Avoid " Expert International Education" with jobs in Xiamen / Fuzhou .high schools and colleges. Innumerable problems my wife had with this company and I ended up having to spend a lot of time and money getting her out of there and back to UK. Avoid. China seems to be getting less and less hospitable. Sad
Dec 29, 2019 17:16 Report Abuse