Pressures of Living in China


Most of the time while I am here in China, I am okay.  I can communicate with the locals (and I never thought in my life I would ever learn a language like Chinese)  I can handle the hoards of people (sometimes) and  my job is okay considering what I could be doing and I have made many friends that I will have for a life time.

However, there are days when you just can’t handle another day in China.  I call these my bad China days… when these days happen I try to put on my mp3 and crank up as much American music as I can and sing at the top of my voice as I walk (or dance) down the street or sit in my office.   Anything to block out China.

I wanted to put a list of the things that make you crazy when you are having a Bad China day. Not only to let you know but for a kind of theraphy for myself… hehehe

1) One of the things that aggravate you when you are having a bad China day is the fireworks.  I know it sounds silly.. and most people love fireworks and I use to love them.  However, in China fireworks are shot at all hours of the day and evening for every reason known to man.   Someone die fireworks, Someone get married fireworks, someone have a baby fireworks, someone birthday fireworks, someone bought a new house fireworks… some one woke up … whoohooo fireworks… It is crazy when you woke up at 4 am because someone is shooting fireworks close to your apartment.  You want to just go out there and shove them up their…… next!

2)Chinese food can be very tasty and interesting.  However, when you live in the smaller cities in China all you have to choose from is Chinese food.   Rice or Noodles…. these are your choices… No matter what Chinese folks tell you … their diet consist of a little green veggie, even smaller portions of meat (that is loaded with bones) or fish (with even more bones) .. and rice … sometimes they change it up with … noodles.. but that is what you get breakfast, lunch and dinner.   365 days a week… no matter how you cook it.. it is still Rice and Noodles… and everything is loaded down into a soup… sometimes you just want to eat something western… what I wouldn’t give for a bowl of Chili… or … just something that doesn’t taste Chinese.  Yes, I can cook my own food.. however, with only a toaster oven to work with and few western spices and tastes… you are very limited.

3) I think shopping is the next thing that puts me into a bad China day.   As a self-proclaimed fashionista, I pride myself on trying to look hot as I can.  So, shopping is very important to my mood and look; if anyone knows me.   However, when you’re a size 16 living in small City China…. you are not going to get your arse in any cute clothes.   Not even any ugly clothes.. it is just sad.   Everything you see and everywhere you go all the clothes are a size 5 or smaller.    I had to go to the pregnant woman shop to buy some leggings that I had to cut them off above the knee because my legs started turning blue.  Everyone knows when you start shopping and things don’t fit you just want to go home.  Online shopping only satisfies you for a little while.

4) I think one of the most disgusting things and irritating things for me is the spitting and peeing everywhere.  People here spit everywhere even on the floor in restaurants and hotels.  (yes, I know) I can barely eat in some places due to the lack of manners and respect for people who eat in them.   I have to put on my headphones, and focus only on my plate so I can get thru some meals.   The peeing  everywhere is crazy… I can be walking down the street and glance to the left someone is peeing against a building .. or taking their child in the middle of the side-walk to pee or even go number 2.   It is just dirty.. and I feel dirty when I see it… and trust me the summer streets smell bad enough without them adding the smell of toilet to everything.

5)I guess the finally thing that makes me have a bad China day…. are the people.   Some people may think it is cute to see innocent people who are not knowledgeable about some things.   But when you want to hold an intelligent conversation and you need to explain the history behind everything you are talking about… it gets a little old.   When the most intelligent things your co-workers talk about is …what color they should paint their walls of the house when they marry their rich man?  Gives me the feeling of being trapped in Neverland.  Even talking to people from other countries … it isn’t the same.. sometimes you want to talk to an AMERICAN… that understands your references to “Save By the Bell” or knows who Carlton was on the “Fresh Prince” when you do the dance.

I get a lot of flack from people telling me that I diss China and that if I hate China so much to go home (another aggravating thing) … and I want to say officially… I don’t hate China… China can be a very interesting and intriguing place….living here is an experience you can only dream about.. you learn and see things that you are amazed at … and you have experiences that you will tell your great grandchildren about…… BUT … just like in my own country somethings just piss you off.

Some days are just very, very hard to deal with …. (just like in America) … no place is Utopia…. however, where ever you choose to be … you have to adjust and deal with whatever the circumstances.   I have adjusted to China and its people’s crazy thinking… but it doesn’t mean I have to love everything about it. It also doesn’t mean I agree with everything that is done.

One last thing on my Bad China venting Blog…hehehe… (I feel better already, actually) … many, many foreigners …. come to me and ask me why Americans are so arrogant and difficult to deal with ….?    My wonderful, beautiful American people… please, please … don’t come to China or any other foreign country and think you own the place.

Please do not have such a superior attitude to the other people you meet.   Yes, we are the number superpower of the world .. currently... however, that doesn’t give us the right to lord over every other country in the world.  We are not perfect.. fellow Americans….  This attitude makes it very, very difficult for us Americans that live in other countries.

Stop making us look bad… and use your manners… Everyone looks at the Americans when travel abroad…we are the example people…… please Don’t let the whole world continue to think we are arse holes…don’t let them continue to hate us

北京奥运会开幕式烟花
北京奥运会开幕式烟花 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(stepping down off my soap box)

until next time……

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25 thoughts on “Pressures of Living in China

  1. Pingback: The Good Things About China? « Life Behind The Wall

  2. Yashin

    Hi Jo! Just sending you a shout out–thanks for the blog; I’ve enjoyed it a lot. I’m a US born child of Taiwanese immigrants that was raised until high school in South America. We moved to ColuImbia when I was 13 (mid 80s), when I did a couple of months in West Jr High, then a year and a half at Hickman High before we moved to Massachusetts. Do you have a generic email you could share? I used to teach ESL and wanted to share a teaching resource I recently refound. Anyway, I really had to say hi and let you know that all the topics you share, esp your experiences and impressions are really appreciated.

  3. I think the “bad (enter country here) days” are pretty normal. Living in a rural area period I think probably amplifies the feelings, LOL well for me it would. I think it only because a problem when those days start coming more frequent than the “good” or “okay” days because to me that’s a clear sign of unhappiness. That doesn’t seem to be the case for you yet though. Just sounds like those are the days when you take a hot bath and call it day.

  4. SamySam

    hehe I totally agree with your comment about not hating China but still not liking everything about it. Some people can get extremely defensive about something even when they know what the other person said was true. I really want to visit Hong Kong one day. I’m almost finished with school and sending in my applications to Japan (I’ve been studying the language for 3yrs I might as well use it). Right now, I’m actually living in an area in Atlanta with a large Asian polulation. A majority of it is Korean but there’s still many Chinese communities scattered about. That’s what really got me interested in China, was the people I met from there. By the way, do you ever get the chance to regularly come back over to America for vacations or other reasons?

    1. @ samysam… It is pretty expensive to travel back and forth to American too often… so we try to go every other year to visit my kids and family memebers… we are on chinese money… so it makes it much harder to try to save money.

  5. Hey Jo, I feel like this is some one in part a response to my negative blogger story 😛 But even if it’s not I appreciate it as an awaken-er. My expat friends say you have to live in a country for at least 4 years to really “get it” and then the fairy dust will disappear and you get either really angry or your really love it lol. I know there are bad days everywhere. Most of my post is really about the men out there, with the recent news things I really think they can’t handle the differences of being anywhere but home lol. Like you said, it’s a good thing the one good story in the news recently was an American or we all get shit for it.
    I really do love your blog, (I think I’d have to for reading like years years years of posts lol) ❤
    We find out in a little over a month if I can deal with China.
    PS (as a mom with a toddler I always find myself liking the idea of the peeing on the street thing, but not the pooping lol) but living in a US city, I think it can be the same, they just pee on the city bus instead of the sidewalk. and it might be because of immigrants, but tons of spitting going on in Phoenix. Maybe the only reason I'm not grossed out even at the idea of China is because my son is what I like to think of as a normal boy, but he grosses most people out and I'm like "eh whatever". 😉

  6. pearls

    Jo, it is good to vent. It keeps you sane, helps to put everything into proper perspective, and redirects negative energy. I’m here to support and encourage you! Everything will be alright.

    Plus, it sounds like pampering/massage therapy time!

      1. pearls

        I commend you for your diligence and tolerance because the restaurants’ scene alone would make me irate and barf all over the place. These experiences are definitely making you and other expats stronger.

        Fighting!

  7. MsEee

    I think the world will always have its preconceived notions about Americans in their mind all powerful land of opportunity no matter how we act when we are abroad. I do believe people should always be on their best behavior when visiting.

    I have never gone abroad yet but planning to visit maybe live, but I want easy and relaxing like Belize or another Island.

    I love reading your blog when I first started it I wanted to live in China, but I have sinced changed my mind, but thanks for sharing and I love the respect that you have for marriage.

    MsEee

    1. @MsEee I am sorry I changed your mind on China.. but… China isnt for everyone.. and I would rather you go to a place that you will feel comfortable and relaxed. China can be stressful sometimes….Thank you so much for reading my blog.

  8. I hear you about the bad China days. I applaud you for having the courage to live in a small city in China. I was in Yangshuo for 5 days last year and I was so sick of the food there. I am not sure I would be able to hack it even in Shanghai, and I was born there!

    Hong Kong is much more cosmopolitan of a city and living here is not so bad except that it is very very expensive. Once my husband and I found our favorite pizza, burger, Indian joints, it’s been easier. We are still on the search for Mexican, Korean, and steak. 🙂

    Shopping here is not so great compared to the US as its either poor quality or pay double US prices for good quality. So I hear you on this.

    One thing I always disliked about Mainland China is the nasty bathrooms. I don’t get why it’s so dirty.

  9. sarahinguangzhou

    Yes that reminds me of the reasons I moved to a bigger city, though that might help with the food and the bigger clothes you still have to deal with people using the streets as their personal toilet and the spitting and such.
    I think the worse thing for me when I’m having a bad day is the staring and the giggling (I live near a couple of universities and there is an endless stream of young students). I thought there’d be less of that in a big city, but it’s just the same.

  10. samantha

    Great post. Thank you so much for sharing your opinions and experience. I’ve been reading your blog for a minute now (American slang! Heehee) and have found your thoughts thoroughly interesting and entertaining!!! I’m moving from Little Rock, Arkansas, to Changchun in only a few days and as much as I try, I know there is no amount of preparing that will ease the shock of a completely different culture! I’m happy to know there will be other like-minded Americans, though. Thanks again for blogging! I’ve definitely got you bookmarked!! Best wishes – Sam

  11. I think perhaps a problem with your post is people will read it and think *all* of China is like that. I can tell you living five years here in Beijing it isn’t.

    Yeah, we still get some people doing the stuff you outline above, but as far as I can tell, they are mostly “country folks”.

    I think the habits of many Americans in the very poor and deep south would also be distressing to city people.

    1. @ Sujinyan… I specifically mentioned in my post that I live in a small town/small City…. and what you call country folks is 80% of China… much different than the 20% of very poor in the deep south. I have never any any of my posts stated that .. what I experience is ALL OF CHINA. I do not live in all of China… I live in the small City I live in and I tell about the experiences I have in this city. When I travel to other cities… I tell about the experiences I have in those cities. Everyone please understand that my blog and my posts are MY EXPERIENCES ONLY… other people may have or may have not experienced the same things. Please know that these are MY views not the views of all expats in China nor all American Black women in China.

      1. Cool. But, a lot of folks will see “Pressures of living in China”, and try to apply what you are saying to *all* of China… including some of the folks leaving comments. It might’ve been better to say “Pressures of living in a small Chinese town” or some such thing.

        btw, you should take a break and come visit Beijing. 🙂 🙂

      2. There is nothing wrong with venting Jo. We all know that you are a respectful person who is blogging about Your experiences as a Black American woman living and working in China. You also don’t need to change the titles of your blog posts to please people either. I’m not big on folks who try to police people’s language.

        With that being said, I enjoy your writing and thank you for sharing with us. 🙂

    2. pearls

      @Sujinyan. Please let me educate you. Here in America, there’s a difference between good home training, proper/improper behavior and a cultural norm. When someone squats in public over here to use the bathroom, they are considered mentally imbalanced right away. Plus I have met some poor folk and people from the deep South who have more dignity and home training in their baby toe nail compared to the outlandish behavior of some ‘city’ folk. Behavior and a cultural norm just cannot be used in the same breath or context over here.

      1. Just to be clear, I’m American. Moved here five years ago. I’ve lived on both coasts for substantial periods of time, and traveled extensively around the country as well.

  12. James Song

    Sorry. All the cultural differences are not what I hate. It’s the prejudice. I am an ABC, and I tried to live and work in China. But after 10 years of experience working for a Fortune 5 company (5 not 500), running divisions, speaking Chinese, going to school to learn to write Chinese, doing freelance consulting work for major multinational and Chinese state owned companies for pittance, I am dismissed for permanent positions because I am an “ABC”. They’d rather have a Caucasian because then their company would be “more international” or they’d rather have a native Chinese who worked/studied abroad because at least “they are more fluent in the language and understand the culture, have guangxi”…. Hey all valid points, but when you want to just work and feed your family, racism/elitism just frustrates the living heck out of you.”

    And it’s just not the Chinese who do this… I was walking in People’s Park (Ren Min Gong Yuan) in Shanghai, and 2 “men” in very nice suits carrying “pricewaterhouse coopers” bags purposely cross the path, and bumped into me, flanking me on both sides. The words out of one “chap’s” mouth was “You Chinese need to learn to yield” (in an Afrikaner tinted accent). The other laughed … I said in American English “Excuse me? You bumped into me.” The response? “Oh, the monkey speaks English does he?” I told them, “I am American. You’ve heard of George Bush?” Puzzled he said “yeah, the idiot can’t find his ass with 2 hands” I said yes, but that is my point, I may be an idiot, but I always do what I say and finish what I start, so remember this… “you are a guest in this country as am I, and if I ever catch you trying to bully another Chinese, I will take your heart out of your chest and shove it down your throat, and shit down it just for good measure”… “and that is an American’s promise”. The two wimps ran faster than I have ever seen in their armani suits and magli capped toes. Argh. And they wonder why the Russian “teacher/artist” and molesting Brit in Beijing are being made such a big deal of? Spend one night on the Bund in Shanghai, and the treatment/objectification of Chinese women by the ugliest, gnarliest, unfit group of Laowai I have ever seen …. When my friends from China came to visit me in California, they said, wow, there are so many good looking people here …. we will never think those ugly men in Shanghai are good looking again. and it goes on and on … sorry to digress.. but…..

    back to the point… all the cultural differences aside, I was sick of China because I never stood a chance against the racism …

  13. Actually, in my experience here it’s been the Brits who think they own the place. They’ve been keeping a low profile after that dirtbag in Beijing got beat down though.

    I have Bad China days every now and then. Normally it’s people’s rudeness which causes it. The other day, it seemed like everyone was going out of their way to piss me off. But today seems to be alright. I bought a new bed yesterday so nothing can get me down!

  14. Ian

    i 200% agree with you…ive been here 9 years, you would think it gets easier….it does not.
    Most of the time i love it here…..some times i could kill…some times i know why but others times i really have no idea why

    loveya blog keeep it up 🙂

    1. @Ian…. i guess you have to live here to know the love/hate feelings you have for China…. 9 years… congratulations.. When I grow up .. i want to be like you!!!!! We need to stick together and be strong… FIGHTING!!!!

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