Who pays for the dinner?

You are going out to have dinner with your boyfriend and with another friend. You get the bill. Who pays?

Where I’m from, everyone just pays their own part. Sometimes the boyfriend invites, and sometimes the girlfriend invites too. But usually my boyfriend and I always split the costs. It would just not be fair for him to pay each time when going for dinner. I would not even want that and I would not want to pay for his dinner each time either. We usually just split the cost of the bill into half.

We went for dinner with a chinese friend. When we asked for the bill she calculated the price. It was 26 Yuan for her and then she told my boyfriend that it was 52 Yuan for him. I was ready to give her my part of the money. I think I tried like three times to pay my part but all the time she pointed to my boyfriend and telling him that he has to pay 52 Yuan.

By the way we communicate with a translator machine because she can’t speak much English and my Chinese is still not good enough haha. Just so you can imagine that communication wasn’t easy either.

So my boyfriend paid 52 Yuan and I then gave him the half of it. The chinese friend seemed surprised. For me it was just the normal thing to do.

One day later when we met again she asked me why I paid my own bill and if my boyfriend and I always “go dutch”. I explained her that I don’t want him to pay and that it’s just not fair for the guy to pay all the time. I told her that this is very normal in Austria. She was really surprised and told me that here in China the boyfriends always pay everything …poor guys haha.

 

 

 

Cultural Differences

I am sure you have heard of “culture shock” – but what exactly is it? I am from Austria and although I have travelled a lot and have been to China before it still hit me hard this time. I think it’s because it’s a big difference if you are travelling or actually moving somewhere. When travelling in China you will of course experience some cultural differences too and maybe even a culture shock.

Before moving to China I already knew some things that would expect me like for example

  • people making disgusting noises and then spitting on the floor no matter where (even inside, not just outside!)
  • holes in the ground instead of a toilet seat
  • people eating their food making noises
  • getting inside the subway first instead of waiting for the other people to get outside
  • no eye contact when talking to each other – especially when negotiating this is very strange to experience
  • people taking pictures all the time and saying “waiguo ren” which means “foreigner”. Now imagine we would do that in Europe with every Chinese we see on the street.

I don’t want to lump them all together. I know that not every Chinese is the same. When travelling you will meet very kind people and see that Chinese can be very open and friendly and invite you all the time. But when you move there you will have a different kind of experience, away from the tourist spots and you will get in touch with many Chinese in your daily life.

 

I have some Chinese friends that I really like and I love spending time with them. But still there are some cultural differences that sometimes don’t make it easy. I try do understand their culture. I try to understand how they make decisions or how they think but sometimes it does not seem logic to me. I just come from a very different culture. Maybe I am doing something they find disrespectful or disgusting too and I don’t even know about it.

I remember a conversation with one of my chinese friends:

Chinese: “Does your boyfriend have a house and a car?”

Me: “No, why?”

Chinese: “No? [being shocked] So how can you ever have any children if you don’t have a house?”

Me: “We can just rent an apartment. All of my family lives in flats and pays rent. It is not necessary to own a house so you can have children”

Chinese: “Hmm, there is a guy I like but he doesn’t have a house so I don’t know what to do about it”

Me: “No problem, you are still young and if he is a nice guy and you like him it should not matter”

Chinese: “We are not young anymore, I’m 25 and he is 27, it is important to have a house here in China. In China the girls only want guys with house and car. It is important for the future”

I tried to tell her that these kinds of things don’t matter to me. I don’t care about the salary of my boyfriend or whether he has a house or not. And I told here that both the woman and the man work so why would he has to own a house? She then explained me that boyfriends pay everything for their girlfriends. It was a very interesting conversation because we both were shocked of each other’s point of view.

Another story: At the gym there was a guy who wanted to add my WeChat (the Chinese kind of Whatsapp). He texted me in English and I guess he just felt so cool about it that he made up some story and added a screenshot of our conversation to his WeChat Moments (like posting a picture on Instagram) and pretended something that is not true. This is something I really don’t like here in China.

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Of course this kind of people can be anywhere in the world but here I have seen it a lot – they just like to pretend and appear something they are not. It’s fake. Why lie about such silly things? I get that there are so many Chinese people and they have this instict of competition but lying around is something I hate. They spend tons of money on fashion and beauty and brands and phones while earning very little money. But from experience I know that they even take credits from the bank just to be able to buy this kinds of things. So that’s something I just cannot understand at all. On one side they are complaining about not having money but on the other side they spend money on unnecessary things…. like my friend too. She is dreaming of going to Europe and wants to save money but guess what – she spends so much money on stupid things you cannot even imagine.

There are so many other things I could talk about but I am going to save that for another post.

Food Market in China

Javi and I are part of a group chat in WeChat (the chinese kind of Whatsapp) with almost 400 foreigners living in Nanning. An italian girl got in touch with me before I arrived in China and we chatted a lot. On the third day after arriving in Nanning I finally got internet on my phone (it was btw NOT blocked.. I just went to a different phone company and it worked without any problems). I cancelled my spanish phone number and now I got 10 GB each month for only 6 Euros. Awesome.

So I asked the italian girl if she wants to meet up in the city centre and that’s what we did. She showed us some places and then went to a street food market in the city center. It was really interesting there. Mostly the food there was: Tofu, vegetables, dumplings (jiaozi and baozi), fried insects, a looot of different kinds of meat and many other things I have never seen in my life before. Also many interesting desserts with fruits or pudding-kind-of things. We decided to have dinner there and try the food.

I decided to eat the Jiaozi (like meat or vegetable filled dumplings) and Javi and the italian girl ordered some tofu with vegetables and mushrooms and meat on a stick. What Javi and I did not know was that most of the food here is spicy – and we both don’t like spicey. A day later Javi and I went to a normal restaurant and asked for non spicy food but there was only so little. Almost everything was spicy!

One time we bought green pepper at the supermarket. It looks like normal green pepper, like in Austria and like in Spain – but it was super spicy! I could not even eat it (yes, it may sound like I am exaggerating but I really cannot eat anything spicy).

On the other side I love the fruits here in China – there are so many fruits that we don’t have in europe and they are super delicious. On the streets you can find many people selling fruits or fresh fruit juice.

Here are some pictures of the food market:

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The first day in Nanning

We got up at 8 in the morning. Well actually Javi got up at 6 and tried to convince me for more than one hour to get up too but I was still so tired. We walked around the area to find breakfast with WiFi. Not easy at all. We then found a little supermarket where we bought water and breakfast to go. Then we found a little WiFi spot on the street where we stayed for a few minutes to answer all the messages and talk to the family. I then looked up the address to go to the police station because if you don’t stay at a hotel you have to register at a police station within 24 hours. On the map it all looked like it was close to each other but in the end it took us a long time to get there only to find out that it was closed. But closed like forever – it was completely empty and full of garbage inside. We found a shopping center with WiFi and that’s where I checked the address of a different police station. Again, it looked like kind of around the corner and only a few streets away but it was almost an hour walking in the end and it was sooo hot and humid.

Next issue: registration at the police office

We were comunicating with our phones translating english to chinese and vice versa. So we sat there trying to do the registration. I had to fill in a form on the police officer’s phone because all the printed paper is in Chinese. A required field was Chinese phone number. But I don’t have one. It took us around half an hour to figure out following: I can use a friends chinese number but I did not have any because WeChat works with username so I can’t see the number. The chinese police officer made me a hotspot and I could use his internet to find a friend with chinese number. I called a girl from Spain that I haven’t even ever met before but we talked to each other because she was going to help me with the chinese language course. She then agreed to send me her chinese phone number. The police officer sent a verification code to her and she then sent a screenshot to me. All this trouble was for nothing in the end. Why? Because the next thing he asked me for was a confirmation letter of the landlord because if it is not a hotel you are required to have a confirmation letter. Of course I did not have one so the whole thing was a waste of time.

There was a Chinese-looking guy next to us and asking us if we need any help. He spoke English perfectly and I was so relieved to be able to speak with someone. He then told us that he is from Scotland but he learnt Chinese for 3 years – awesome! He helped us a lot and in the end the police officer said that I can register online when I get a chinese phone number. The scottish guy then called a taxi for us to bring us to a shopping center with Walmart so we can buy some stuff for the flat. He said: „The taxi driver already knows where you want to go. Just get out of the car and don’t give any money – even if he asks for money. It’s already paid by me“. Since I arrived in China I was in many situations like „oh shit that sucks so much and so complicated“ and „this is awesome, so nice I can’t believe it“. If you know what I mean… it’s just a rollercoaster of feelings. It was great talking to him and we got his wechat contact. Then we went to Walmart

The apartment we are staying at now is only temporarly because in 2 days the company will give Javi another one. Javi told the company that it is important for him to have a flat for himself because I was going with him. But the flat they gave him was a shared flat so after complaining they told him that they will find a solution. So right now I am still at the shared flat. It is an empty flat. There is nothing. No toilet paper, hand soaps, kitchen stuff… not even one single pan or pot or fork or anything. Absolutely nothing. (and yes, there was someone living there… I don’t understad how you can live like that to be honest)

Since we knew we would get to a different flat we did not buy much. Just a small towel to take a shower, toilet paper and food that we can eat without kitchen stuff. Even the food shopping was complicated but that would be too long of a story to explain now. In the end we just got a lunch that we did not even expect because of some communicaton problems but it was really tasty. At Walmart a chinese man came to us and asked if we need any help. After talking to him for a while he asked what we do in China. When Javi said that he works as a football coach the chinese man said that he knows a person (his ex work colleague) who works with football coaches here. He then showed Javi the contact and they found out that it is the exact same person that has been organising Javi’s arrival for a long time. The chinese man and Javi then took a picture to send it to her. In the beginning we did not expect that it is the same person because people here have 2 names: a chinese name and an english name. And Javi only knew the english name of her while the chinese man only knew her chinese name. But in the end it was super funny and such a big coincidence. I mean.. our first day in a city with 7 million people and we find some chinese guy at walmart that knows the person who works with Javi haha. Just crazy.

So that’s it for today. Now I am at the flat. Javi is at work but has a work dinner today to get to know more people etc. Since we only have one key and still no internet and no idea when he will come home I just prefer to stay in the room (after what happened yesterday I am not going to do that again). But like that I have time to organize some things.

The arrival from the airport to the city of Nanning

If you read my last post you know how long the journey was and can maybe imagine how tired I was because i was not able to sleep at the plane…not even for a minute. So I arrived in Nanning at the airport and a chinese lady, who was on my flight from Guangzhou to Nanning, helped me negotiate the taxi price (100 Yuan instead of 150 Yuan = 12 Euros). First of all – the people talking to you on the airport saying: „taxi, taxi, taxiiii“ are only wing men. They bring you outside and then call their friends who are driving around all day long to pick up people from the airport. He talked to like 3 different people and no one could take me because they either had some other customer going to another direction or whatever reason I did not understand because they were speaking chinese the whole time. After a while waiting outside he called another person and finally took me and another chinese girl to the city center. It was a lot of trouble for them to find my address and despite talking to like 5 different people nobody knew the street where I had to go to. They all tried to tell me that the address is wrong and the street name is a different but similar one but I was 100 % sure of the street name. But I did not have any interent so I was not able to show them. Anyways he took me and while driving to the city center the girl next to me helped me figure out the street name (which was correct of course!).

In the taxi it was so difficult to not fall asleep, seriously. I felt like I reached my limit. I could have fallen asleep within a second. It was a trouble for the taxi driver to find the street name but he kept driving around to find the right house number which I found really nice. So I took out another 10 Yuan of my wallet to later give him tip. The chinese girl next to me saw that and when the taxi driver was not looking she took the 10 Yuan and put it back to my wallet and pointed that I should not give any tip and that 100 are okay. So I am not sure what that means. Was 100 Yuan too much? Or are tips not usual here? No idea. (I later found out that in China it is not common to give tip)

We found the right house number and I got off the taxi. It was around 14 o’clock by that time (time in China, 6 hours more than in Austria). There was a China Mobil store right next to the entrance so I wanted to buy a SIM card to finally have internet on my phone again. But of course it would have been too good to be true. She said that my phone is blocked and the SIM card does not work on my phone. Great.

So I went back to the entrance of the apartment and waited there for my boyfriend. Of course it would have been easier to just wait for him 2 hours at the airport but that was not possible because someone from his work picked him up.

So I waited and waited… moving around to places in the shade because I was wearing long jeans and a short sleeve shirt. It was so humid and hot – I was so hot and sweaty I felt really awful there. So it was 15, then 16, then 17 o’clock. Then I thought that something cannot be right. He was supposed to arrive at 16 maximum at the apartment but I waited for one more hour because you never know (delayed flight or traffic or whatever reason).

So I walked around to find a restaurant with Wifi which btw is not easy at all. The places around that area are all small restaurants without any WiFi and because of the broken luggage I could not walk around that much. Luckily I found a fast food pizza place and they had WiFi.

And then I saw the message of my boyfriend Javi… he got picked up from the work colleague but they brought him straight to work to do his first training and he finishes at 19. They seriously cannot wait one day? Like travelling for around 20 hours is not exhausting plus the jetlag. Anyways he got to meet the whole team and all so that was great for him of course. I tried to stay at the pizza place as long as possible. I finally was able to contact my whole family to tell them that I arrived safely. After answering all these messages my phone ran out of battery. There was no plug in this restaurant…not even a toilet. So my final message to Javi was that at 19 I will go back to the entrance of the apartment and told him the street name again.

I was relieved and thought that this time it would work. So I went back to the entrance and waited there…and waited… and waited. I put the straps of my bags around my feet in case of robbery. I sat there and just could not resist anymore and fell asleep. Not for long, always for a few minutes but it was a hard fight. Have you ever been so tired that you had to fight but you just could not resist? It’s awful. So it was 21 o’clock and I started to get really worried. Now my options are: Keep waiting but I have no battery nor wifi and everything was already closed OR look for a hotel but that means walking around with 3 luggages and one of them even broken and not knowing where to go because… well, because no internet. And old people say it was better back then without internet. People were loosing a lot of time waiting or looking for each other. If I would have had internet it all would have been much easier haha.

So I sat there thinking the whole time: „should I stay or should I go“ 😛 and I seriously was about to go look for a hotel but imagine if I go to a hotel, I would have Wifi and I could charge my phone and text him BUT Javi did not have WiFi either so he could not have read the message and maybe was looking for me the whole time and would have kept doing this for hours. It is horrible not knowing what the other person will do or where he/she is when we were supposed to meet up.

I think it was around 21:15 when he finally passed by the apartment and we saw each other. I cried of relief and he just hugged me a lot. He was running around the streets looking for me for more than one hour. We than realised that the community we live in is so huge it has many different entrances in different streets as well. He kept asking chinese people about the street name I told him and they all told him different directions although it was only 5 minutes walking distance. Not even the security guy of the building could tell him where the street is and since he did not have internet either the only thing left to do was running around.

Anyways it all ended well.

As you can imagine I fell asleep within seconds once in the apartment.