I know it has been a while since I have written but I have been so busy trying to wrap up everything and start everything that I want to start for the new year. Now that I have finally had a rest in my busy schedule I have thought about the things I learned while living in China and married to a Chinese husband that is a bit younger than me. So here goes… the things I have learned in China this year .. in random order … that is…
1)In China real friends are hard to find. I have never had a problem making friends. I am a pretty good person and I think I am a good friend. However, In China friendship has a whole other meaning and it is hard to distinguish who is really your friend or who just wants you around for what you can do for them. Since the whole society is based on the “you scratch my back I scratch yours” mentality I have had to adjust my definition of what friendship is and I have learned that my thoughts that all Chinese people always help each other is not true. Well, they do help each other but it is usually at a cost. Not many people want to be your friend just because you are who you and they like hanging around you; there is almost always a catch so the trust is thrown out the window.
2) If you stay in China long enough you start thinking as crazy as they do. I have been in China for about 3 years now.. and I am finding myself saying and doing some of the strange traditions that they do. For example, when my daughter who is living in the states said she was sick with a cold I told her to drink hot water. Which is the Chinese answer to anything to do with sickness. I told a foreigner that was in China for the first time that something was not far and walked him there …. and actually it was about a mile away…. my concept of distance has changed to the Chinese way of thinking.
3) Being married to someone younger can have major issues. I have dated men of all ages and been in serious relationships with men that are the same age, older and younger than myself. But take that relationship to China and you have a lot of other issues coming at you. In China age is an issue and it is not acceptable for a man to marry anyone older than he and sometimes not acceptable if the women is the same age. In their traditional thinking a woman has reached old maidenhood at age 30. Therefore, if you are over thirty and not married you are pretty much out of luck of getting a “good” man. I am told you are left with the poor and poorly looking men. You have basically ready to be placed in a retirement home. So, to be my age and married to a man 14 years my junior is basically an impossible feat. My issue is not with the fact that people talk loudly about it, it is the fact that they try to break it up. By introducing my husband to girls they think he should be with, making up stories to cause issues and keeping him out partying so he would have issues when he got home. They have even stooped to hiding his cell phone so he cannot call me to tell me where he is or when he is returning.
4) Chinese food everyday makes you stop liking food. I would never think that I would stop wanting to eat. Since I love food so much. But, living here in China in an area where the only foreigner foods i can get is McDonald and KFC for the last three years has down right made me stop liking food. Oh.. yeah.. you all can talk about how wonderful Chinese food is… and it can be unless you are eating it everyday at every meal. For breakfast, lunch and dinner… even snack… it is either noodles, rice and some kind of vegetables. The Chinese are not really partial to meat and when they do have some it is usually filled with bones and very little of the meat part. I have gotten to the point that when they ask me what I want to eat there are so few choices.. that I just don’t care anymore. It all just starts tasting the same and I only eat to survive.
5) It is just faster to walk. I am one of those people who would not have walked to the gas station that is a block away to get a soda. But since I have come to China and dealt with the crazy traffic and amounts of people everywhere I have found that it is just faster to walk where I want to go. Here walking is a way of life, I would ride a bike but the streets are just to dangerous and the way they drive would kill you.
6) Living with a man who is Chinese you have to deal with the barbaric thought process that men are superior to women. It is like you travel back in time, where women are the weaker sex and need a man to do everything for them. Although, my husband is quite free thinking for the average traditional Chinese man he still has his backward thoughts every now and then. One the fact that a woman should always serve her man his meals and go get things for him at the store. That the woman should do all the cooking, cleaning and shopping, which the man sits and just watches television and goes to work. Fortunately, one of the things he has learned in China this year is that …life with me is much different and equality is king in this relationship.
7)Starting your own business in China is not so easy for a foreigner and even worse if you are a foreign women. Due to the traditional thinking that women are lesser beings than men. It is very hard for a woman to compete in this male dominated culture, but add the fact that the woman is a foreigner it makes it nearly impossible. Everything I do to create and run my business has to be done thru my husband and everything has to be done in his name. Makes things very frustrating when the powers that be in business licensing won’t even talk to you without your husband present. They tend to talk over you like you are not even there…since you place is supposed to be in the home.
8) Traveling in China is a pain in the ass. Although I want to see as much as China as I can while I am living here, getting to where I want to go is not easy at all. If you just take out the amount of people everywhere which are staggering, you are just stuck with the ways of transportation which are just a mess. You cannot order anything online everything you have to do face to face at the ticket counter. You cannot buy return tickets until you get to the place your going and then there is no promise that you can leave when you want. Your choices of travel are train, bus and plane, however, your plane ticket costs change hourly so you never know what the price will be the next time you look. Most things have to be paid in cash so you always need to carry tons of money on you and risk theft.
9) No matter how long you live in China if you are a foreigner they will always point and stare at you. I have lived in this town for three years and see the same people day after day…. and they still point and stare at me like they have never seen me before. I gets down right irritating. People that know me and have seen me often will still point and stare it makes you wonder what the hell is wrong with them. They will stare at you with their mouths hanging open like you cannot see them right there in front of you. Your only hope is to embarrass them in some way so they will feel that they have lost face.
10) I hate the concept of “face” with all my heart and soul. Out of all the things that bother me in China face is the most irritating and frustrating of all. People are so worried about what others will think of them they lose their self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth. They cannot enjoy anything in life because they are too worried about what someone will think about them. My husband is a victim of this tradition and although many people tell me that they hate it also; they also inform me that they have no choice but to go along with it because of how strong an influence it is. It makes me angry when I see the pressure it puts on people to live beyond their means due to what others will say about them if they knew that they were just surviving.
So, this is my list although if I thought about it I can probably think of many more things I have learned like not to ever use the public bathroom on the street side, and never to trust when Chinese say it is sweet …because it never is and that when they say you look beautiful they don’t really mean it.
Next year my book will be available on Amazon.com and I will be selling copies thru my website. I will be visiting the states next month to see my family and see how they react to not seeing me for the past three years and I will be seeing my grandson for the first time. This year I will be really getting serious about my trade company and slowly getting out of the teaching business. I am going to be doing interviews and appearances for my book and trying to get it approved to sell in China. I will be taking a trip to Taiwain with my new friends and I will be trying to visit more parts of China if I don’t go crazy with the hassles of it. I will have several new teachers coming to work at my school to experience and train and I will try to get a solid concept of what I will write in my next book. So many things I have planned for the next year and I am sure there will be many, many blogs sharing my experiences.
For the new year… I hope everyone has health, wealth and love … and continues to dream. Thank you all for being supporters of my blog and my book and I promise there are more experiences to come that I am happy to share about my time living behind this damn great wall of China.
until next time….
- China Business Dinner Etiquette. (chinalawblog.com)
- Top 10 chinaSMACK Headlines of 2010 (blogs.forbes.com)
- Chinese Internet Penetration Deepens, Mobile Internet Access Crosses Desktop (techie-buzz.com)
- China preparing for armed anti-imperialism (redantliberationarmy.wordpress.com)
- Will Skype Be Banned in China? (gigaom.com)
- Women Not Welcome (jobsearchingblog.com)
- Ni Hao: Mark Zuckerberg Visits China (allfacebook.com)