Black in Asia

5 really weird cultural differences I discovered in China

I want to talk about 5 weird cultural differences I learned about while I was in China that no one told me about, and I didn’t learn from online.

1.) Driving has a new set of rules:

cultural pic 1

Such as red lights being a suggestion or it’s always the bigger cars fault. This in my opinion is one of China’s many “unwritten rules” which is a term I first heard once I got over there.

Cars, buses, scooters etc, will fly through a red light because, “cars are supreme!” As pedestrians you gotta cross the street with the flock, and dodge those flaming buses that blow through the light. Another thing with this tip is that people, including me, assumes that a one-way street means one-way in China, well, I learned my lesson by almost becoming road-kill to a motorcycle going against traffic. Gotta look 3 ways before crossing the One-Way street. Look left, right, and above lol.

In China, it’s always the bigger vehicles fault. If a bike hits a car, cars fault, car hits a bus, buses fault, bus hits a truck, trucks fault. If a person gets hit, good luck getting a plate number on the car that will have already disappeared. lol

2.) Chinese go to the hospital for everything:

cultural pic 2

It’s completely different from America for example where we have family doctors and personal doctors. And regardless of what you go for, you’re more than likely going to get the “Chinese drip.” What this actually is, is an IV drip.

From my previous post (My hospital misadventure in China) I had a high fever one day, and all they did was give me an IV Drip. Another friend of mine had a stomach ache, and when he went to the hospital, what did they give him? Yes, and IV Drip.

Solves everything~

3.) Be merciless when waiting on a line for anything:

cultural pic 3

Line butting? Think twice

Being nice in China when it comes to waiting on a line for anything will cause you to LOSE the last soup dumpling you wanted for breakfast, I still resent that…

Pushing and shoving to the front of a queue is common place in China. Because there’s so many people, no one wants to wait their turn, so as a result, whether it is to get off the train, buy something, etc, people will be skipping to the front of the line. Especially on buses and trains, jeez. I had to shove past an old lady to get on the train that would have left us both if I waited…China will bring out extreme humbleness out of you, but will also bring out the worst of you on a BCD (Bad China Day).

4.) BCD’s (Bad China Day’s)

I don't know about you, but this looks like a  BCD if I've ever had one

I don’t know about you, but this looks like a BCD if I’ve ever had one

This term I also learned from an expat forum while in China. While having a BCD, most people would get overly annoyed at everything. People staring the heck out of you, asking you crazy questions, taking photos of you, ripping you off…

People invading your personal space? Get over it. People looking into your phone right in your face? Get a privacy screen protector. People taking a picture of you without getting permission, or caring? Smile.

There’s a saying that my friend said to me. “As expats we cannot get angry in another country” Many times Chinese people would wait for an expat, deserving enough, to do something out of anger or frustration, then they will record the heck out of it, and post it all over social media; it makes for good conversation (hey, look at this foreigner, he is angry, so interesting).

If you twitch the wrong way, someone will be ready to record and/or take pictures of you.

5.) Privacy and Personal space is more than a luxury, peace and quiet is more than gold

I didn't draw this

I didn’t draw this

China has a lot of people. SO MANY PEOPLE in fact, that you take a second before you get on the train to just be in awe, at how many people there are; personal space doesn’t even translate well in Chinese, so I can’t even explain this foreign term to people well. There was a time when I was having a study session with a friend in a park, and a lady with her child, came in front of my face, right into my paper, completely cutting me off. And my tutor simply said, it’s okay, she’s just curious…..that’s acceptable? To put your face… in my lap?

Okay… you give it a try.

Another thing, on the subway, unless you have a privacy screen for your mobile and tablet devices, expect to share your movie or game with everyone around you, and expect to be questioned about what you’re watching or playing, and if that person is daring enough, expect to even be asked to give them a try. 🙂

cultural 5

Chinese is a language that is just loud in general. I can’t even whisper it, and because of the ways, the tones come out of your throat, and nose, it doesn’t hurt when your yelling it compared to English. So I noticed a lot of people will speak overly loud, and completely negate my headphones. Even in apartments, silence is something that I forgot the meaning to; at least in Shanghai; but I guess New York is not much different either.

Overall, these are only a few of the big cultural differences I learned abroad that I never was told before I left, or that I found while searching online.

This is not a rant post, I still love China, these cultural differences just gave China some more color.


1 reply »

  1. lol, I like the tip for “expats can’t get angry in another country” it is so true, because of negative stereotypes from other countries, it’s always expected that international people don’t know how to behave haha. When I was in Japan, I had a lot of bad Japan days, getting adjested to the life there. ANd I am going to China soon, for my graduate school, and I wanna travel a bit, mostly in Chengdu, so more of these type of posts please 🙂 I am going at the end of August 🙂


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