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.

Update: Life in Nanning

Long time no blog post. Since we moved here it was a little bit chaotic and I didn’t really find the time to just sit down and write and organize my stuff.

To sum up the last two months were like this:

We finally figured everything out and got each a bank account so we can use Wechat pay. Here in China instead of using Whatsapp they use Wechat. The really cool thing is that they also pay with Wechat. But everything. Even at street food markets or some seller on the street – they all have a QR code and you just have to scan the code, put in the amount of money and pay. So easy, so fast, so convenient, so… safe? I’m not sure if it is very safe but I haven’t heard of any problems and I really like it to be honest. No need to touch bills and coins that hundreds of people have touched before. And it is much faster because you always have your phone with you. The only bad thing is when you run out of battery and don’t have any cash on you like it happend to me haha. But that’s why all chinese usually have power banks. So they can charge the phone anytime. But Chinese and their phone will be another blog post because there is also a big problem going on here.

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Anyways we have bought only the basic things for the flat like (of course) blankets and sheets, 2 pots and 1 pan, cutlery and this kind of stuff. Also a big white board so I can write down my weekly schedule. I just love to write down and be organized πŸ˜€

We downloaded the app “Taobao” which is like the Amazon of China. We now order everthing we need on Taobao. It is cheaper than at the supermarket and it gets delivered right to your door – awesome! Now it’s all easy but in the beginning without a bank account and without a chinese friend that can translate (because the app and also pretty much everything else is only in chinese) was pretty hard. Some of the stories I will tell in another blog post otherwise it will be too much for now.

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Other than that we made some friend. There are many spanish people here although Javi doesn’t want to speak any spanish because he wants to learn English (we speak English to each other). And we made a good chinese friend, her English name is Monet. Chinese people that learn English or have contact with foreigners usually give themself an English name so it’s easier for us to pronounce. She is very sweet and helped us A LOT. She helped us pretty much with everything.

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I also found a college where I can learn Chinese and I was able to change my visa from a tourist visa to a student visa. This was another complicated story with first registering at the police station. I had to go there 3 times because of communication problems. At the police station nobody spoke english and we were communicating by google translate on the phone. So it took me a while to finally get the registration certificate and then changing my visa and get a resident permit. I cannot tell you how relieved I am that all this is finally over and now the “normal” life here in China can begin πŸ™‚