Wow… it’s now April… I am approaching the eight month mark. I have tried my best to embrace the customs here and not live completely like a foreigner, eating at McDonald’s, Papa John’s, Burger King, and the countless other western restaurants all the time. (Although I am going to start going to a few restaurants from other countries other than the normal American, Italian, and French).
A lot of people ask me how I like living here. My mom told me before I left, that I was gonna like wherever I went because it would be like nothing I’d ever seen before. So far she is correct. Being here, living here, traveling throughout China and being comfortable here is truly an experience. Either you will love it here or hate it here. But I encourage everyone to travel, go anywhere…
I like it here, and I understand why there are two million foreigners (from all over the world) who call Shanghai “home” and are not interested in leaving anytime soon. About the people, to explain this to someone from America, I say this… Chinese people are nice people but they may not seem courteous to Americans. General do’s and don’ts that Americans follow with respect to others are not normally recognized or practiced in China . Some things about Chinese customs that shocked me when I first arrived seem so normal to me now, while the “American” in me still finds others annoying.
Things that shocked me that seem normal now:
- Its crowded in every place I’ve been to in this country
- Warm beer
- The excessive use of car horns
- Parents holding un-diapered children in a “floating-squatting” position to allow them to relieve themselves in public
- Children relieving themselves in public unassisted
- Grown men relieving themselves in public
- 90% of men smoke, and smoking is pretty much allowed anywhere
- Spitting, everyone does it everywhere, from young to old, even women
- Pedestrians do not have the right of way, must be very careful, fast and skillful to cross the street in Shanghai.
- Most traffic rules do not apply even the red light occasionally.
- The “always stay on the right side of the street” rule is severely disregarded by any and everyone, including public transportation bus drivers.
- Drivers have little to no respect for other drivers, pedestrians, and people on bikes
- Subway (always crowded): Passengers waiting to board the train will storm the doors before the passengers already on the train get off.
- A completely empty train can be filled to capacity in about 5 seconds see video
- The amount of walking you do
- People staring at me
- People/students sneaking pictures of me with their cell phone
Things still annoying, strange, and/or scary:
- Students who come to class with no paper, pen, or notebook
- Dinner at Chinese restaurants where they always bring the rice out last
- Being in a taxi, bus, or on a bike
- Waking up to the sound of construction every morning, literally
- No covering of the mouth when coughing
- No “bless you” after someone sneezes