10 Things that mean something different in China Coming From America

This is in no particular order… Enjoy!

  1. Using the bathroom. No matter where you go, there is a great chance that you will be using the stand-up toilet (aka hole-in-the-ground). I can’t say that I am used to it, but I know what to expect. Even in some fancy places (malls, restaurants) you can still see this style of toilet or something similar.


2. Crossing the street. In China, I have been so scared to cross the street sometimes because there is a lot of crazy driving. As my roommate puts it, they might drive crazily, but they know how to avoid hitting things. I have only seen three accidents since being here, so I guess she is right. So, I like to put my faith in them knowing how to avoid hitting things. My rule for crossing the street here: “Look left, then right, then left again. Even if there is a car coming (unless it right where you are), take a deep breath and go!” It has worked so far, so I guess it’s a good strategy.

3. Cooking. Most people do not have an oven. I don’t even have an oven, but I do have a microwave and stove. It gets hard sometimes because I do miss having an oven. An alternative could be to buy a small toaster oven, but I have not seen any conventional ovens.

4. Visitation. As you probably heard, people in China just typically “drop by” without letting you know. This is true. However, they try to remember that we are Americans, so it is not as common to us.

5. Laundry. I really miss having a dryer. I, honestly, expected that I would have to hand-wash my clothes before I came here, but we have a washer, just no dryer. It makes it hard sometimes, especially when it is cold, since we have to hang it outside. (I don’t know how people did it back then šŸ™‚ )

6. Working. Most people work on Saturdays point blank. I do not, and I’m glad. My school is still open, but I am not expected to work. The only times I work on Saturday is when we have a break the following week, so technically it is not a break.

7. Preservatives or lack thereof. I’m so used to being able to have food (and drinks) the refrigerator for a long period of time that it is the complete opposite here. You have a week/ a week and a half tops to finish whatever it was that you were saving. I learned that the hard way… with pineapple juice… which is my favorite. I drank it, after two weeks, and definitely spat it back out. I’m not going to lie, I was a little upset.

8. Spelling certain words. As an American, I feel that it is expected that I get a little touchy with the ways students spell some words, especially because they may spell it the British way. For example, one of my students was talking about her favorite animal in her writing, and she wrote “favourite”(which I will now take this opportunity to write that even WordPress says that it is wrong). Anyway, I crossed it out and wrote “favorite”, then crossed it out and wrote “favourite” on there again. I will admit, that was so hard to do.

9. Applying for jobs. Unlike the U.S., China has no shame in saying what race they are looking for. I have especially seen this in Beijing where the description may say “Caucasians only” or “Europeans only”. Some have even said “Black men only”. This is for several positions whether it is in acting or teaching. I find it really interesting (and sometimes disturbing, based on the rest of the job description.

10. Safety. I can honestly say I feel safer in China than in the U.S. mainly because guns are banned. I’m not going to lie, there are still criminals, but I feel safe. The other people always warn us to be careful of others, which I do, but I don’t feel like I have to watch my back all the time. I just think I’m in a relatively good city, though of course, you can never be too careful šŸ˜‰


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