China is Not for Everyone

You know I think it is so great that so many people contact me and tell me they want to follow in my footsteps and come to China.  I am happy I inspire so many people to follow their dream to come here.   However, China is not right for everyone.  I know I make it look easy… and I have adapted pretty well to the country but it is not as easy as people think.  Especially if you’re a Black woman or a woman who is larger than a size 9.

Ashtray with cigarette butts
Ashtray with cigarette butts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have decided to put together a list or test of sorts to see if you’re the right person that should be coming to China.   Now I am not an expert on the topic but I can tell you some honest things that can help you to determine whether or not you should follow your dream to live in China.

Below I have a list of things that you will definitely have to deal with when you come to China if you cannot handle 2 or more of these items; I would suggest you choose another country to explore for long-term.

1. If you can’t handle people staring and pointing at you like you are an animal in the zoo; then China is not for you.

2. If you don’t like to have your photo taken without them asking you whenever you go outside; then China is not for you.

3. If you don’t like to risk getting diarrhea whenever you eat something because you are not sure how your stomach will reach to it; then China is not for you.

4. If you’re not okay with eating things that you are not really sure what it is or where it came from, even after you ask; then China is not for you.

5. If you can’t stand people smoking everywhere you go, inside and outside and throwing the cigarette butts everywhere; then China is not for you.

6. If you are not able to use a squatty potty or trough that sometimes doesn’t have a door or toilet paper to go to the bathroom at about every public place; then China is not for you.

7. If you don’t like people to stand too close to you or you do not like people in your personal space all the time; then China is not for you.

8. If you want men to come up to you and ask you out on dates or ask to buy you a drink without you making the first moves; then China is not for you.

9. If you don’t like washing clothes by hand or if you have a machine having to hang all your clothes up to dry; then China is not for you.

10.  If you don’t like to have to bargain a price down everywhere you go because someone is always trying to cheat you and sell you something overpriced; then China is not for you.

11. If you don’t like places that are crowded and waiting in long lines to do everything; then China is not for you.

12.  If you can’t stand dirt, smog, litter and pollution everywhere; then China is not for you.

13. If you can’t handle working 6 days a week, 10 or more hours a day, with no sick time and being call at all hours to do things for your job; then China is not for you.

14. If you don’t like singing at KTV and drinking large amounts of beer and alcohol to be able to network with people; then China is not for you.

15. If being around people who only think about material things and money and are always asking you how much you paid for something; then China is not for you.

16. If you can’t handle not being able to understand people easily or they not being able to understand you even if you can speak Chinese; then China is not for you.

17. If you get irritated when people don’t organize or plan things out well; then China is not for you.

18. If you can’t handle running out of hot water or the electricity going out periodically; then China is not for you.

19.  If you feel irritated and angry when things you pay good money for fall apart after only a few days; then China is not for you.

20. If you want a quick internet that can access Facebook, YouTube or any other American websites without paying money for a proxy and cheap electronics that work well; then China is not for you.

21. If you don’t like being the only one or one of very few Black people in a whole city; then China is not for you.

22.  If you don’t like being monitored or watch every time you go somewhere or do something because the government needs to know everything you do; then China is not for you.

23. If you don’t like sitting at the dinner table and watching people spit bad food and bones on the table in front of them; then China is not for you.

24. If you can’t handle seeing people going to the bathroom outside and spit loudly everywhere; then China is not for you.

25. If you can’t handle people driving like there are no rules to follow on the road and cars have the right of way; then China is not for you.

These are just a few things to test to see if you guys are really ready to come to China.  I don’t want any of you to come here and not be prepared.  I want to be honest and direct. It is not easy.  But if you can adjust, tolerate and you love adventure China just might be okay for you.  I don’t want to discourage I want to encourage… but I don’t want to deceive anyone.  If you come to China you need to put your big Girl and big Boy pants on … and just deal with whatever comes your way.  It is truly survival of the fittest.

until next time….

39 thoughts on “China is Not for Everyone

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  3. I think lots of people are shocked when they first come to China by the points you describe, as I think some people have this idealistic image. Were you expecting something different when you first came to China, and did it shock you?

  4. There is an exception – most of these things are ‘not for me’, BUT I still in China because of this. Personally, I need the stimulation. I’ve lived in places at the top of the so-called ‘best quality of life’ lists, and they are great… but very, very dull.

  5. Granted it’s been a while since I’ve lived in Japan, but I’d say 1, 5, 7, 9, 18, and 23 would (still) apply to there as well. I was really taken aback by the amount of people that smoked and was more shocked to find smoking sections even in McDonald’s! And I’m sure many people have seen the YouTube videos of people being shoved into trains (though most of the times I was on the trains they weren’t that bad). And any ladies that are tall, better get used to having clothes shipped from the UK or US.

    While I definitely think people should travel, people should understand there will be awesome things about living in a new country and things that will drive them nuts. They should spend a fair amount of time actually doing research on the places the want to go, especially if they plan to be there for a long period of time.

  6. hua

    I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be black and in China. I know in Korea, black people face a huge amount of racism. If whites have racism thrown at them, blacks have it 10 times worse in Korea. I had a friend who was dating a black man that was stationed in Korea, and she said whenever him and her go out, Koreans would get as far away from him as possible, say racist things in Korean under their breath at him, pull their children away and hide them, stare wide eyed like he was about to rape and kill them, grab their purses, if he sat down on the subway, people would get up and move away from him…..basically treated him like a plague carrying, out of control, violent animal that was going to rape, kill, and eat everyone. So far from reality, the guy is a really nice, responsible, hard working guy that wouldn’t hurt a fly. Asians are incredibly racist against non asians and even among other groups of asians, but with white people, it’s a love/hate relationship. They admire white beauty and culture but hate us whiteys at the same time. But with blacks, they just hate them. So I really can’t imagine being black and in asia.

    Anyway, good list, similar to Korea in some ways. I think Korean food is less poisonous and Koreans have more manners, and Koreans really don’t take pics of people, the only times I had that happen to me in Korea was by CHinese guys…..weird to think there are Chinese men out there with pictures of me…….

    1. Adeola

      I went to China back in 2010 to meet my husbands family. (I’m Nigerian-American and my husband is Mandarin Chinese). We stayed in Beijing and went to the outskirts a few times. I really didn’t get the racism, I just got more stares like “why is this Chinese dude holding the Black girls hand!” lol. But honestly, for the most part, I felt that they were nice to me. But then again I was in Beijing, Wadakou (not sure if I spelled it right) which tends to have a lot of foreigners anyways.

  7. Tory Cook

    Very awesome list! I’ve lived for several years in South Korea and will be moving to Shenzhen (to teach, of course) next month! I’ve visited China a few times in the past and actually enjoyed a lot of those things that make some people uncomfortable (especially the pictures, staring, wild amazement of some people!) You hit pretty much every valid point possible to living in Asia!

  8. Beth

    As an American who has lived in China for nearly 9 years, I am aware of all the points you make and I think people should think carefully about them before coming to China. I’ve met many foreigners in china who seemed to be almost crazy because they cannot adjust.

    That being said, I hate crowds, noise and attention! I find ways around them (go out to eat at off hours, seek quiet places- they are there though few).

    Another thing is, regarding work- a lot of foreigners have the luxury of not working so many hours. If you work as an English teacher at certain schools (I worked at a middle school for 2 years) you may only have to teach 2 hours per day. Freelance teaching and translating is pretty easy to get into as well and you can make your own hours. China is a very difficult place for foreigners, but at the same time, in some sense foreigners receive advantages that Chinese people don’t have.

    However the main point is that China is a very, very challenging place. an adventuresome spirit and open mind is required!

    Ps- learning at least some Chinese and making friends with Chinese people help a LOT.

  9. I admire your honesty. I do appreciate it. I admit, I live in Taiwan, and I honestly cannot relate to most of these (only a few). I hope to one day visit China, though. I do read your blog and appreciate the fact you invest your time in blogging about your own personal experiences. 🙂

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  11. We had an exchange student from China here this summer. A super sweet , clean, proper, 17 year old girl. Her English was basic, so we couldn’t ask her some our more probing questions. From having her in our home, I can’t imagine how she would deal with some of these things…. but I definitely believe your reports on China. Our thought was that she is from a wealthy family since she goes to boarding school in China and was able to travel abroad. I was wondering if you think that wealthy teenagers are less exposed to this side of China? I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog. I love to travel… but don’t know if I’d make it a week there! 🙂

    1. @thecamps… You are correct your exchange student comes from a wealthy family. No one is able to send their child abroad to america to study unless they are very wealthy because it is a very expensive process. However, the items I listed is all over China… rich, poor, middle class.. they all do it… it is just as they say “Chinese Way” Most Chinese dont like they way China is.. but they cant change anything so they also have to deal with it.

      China is a beautiful country and has many ancient things to see and there are some very kind people that are here.. however… there are no manners at all.

      I laugh because one person told me… you westerners say thank you all the time… dont you feel tired? I said…you should never be tired of being polite and showing manners…. just crazy.

    2. hua

      I would be wary to host a 17 + chinese girl in my home as an exchange student. Wendy Ding got an American family to do just that, pretended to be a sweet, wholesome girl to gain the trust of the wife and she ended up screwing the wife’s husband, tearing the family apart, using the husband for a green card, dumping him, then eventually marrying Rupert Murdoch. I consider Chinese women to be incredibly manipulative and out to get ahead at any cost and would be incredibly weary of them to be in my home around my husband and family.

  12. I have issues with # 7 especially. I’m a New Yorker and I really don’t like people who invade my personal space. I checked off all of the things I have issues with! lol China definitely isn’t for me. I’d visit, but I could not see myself living there and raising a family.

    This is why I love your blog so much. I feel like I’m there without actually being there! lol

  13. I so appreciate your honesty. You don’t usually hear about the dark side of things and people get the big shock of their lives once arriving. Thanks so much for sharing. I will always defer to you for the real deal when people are thinking of going. I would still value the experience, but fore warned is fore armed.

  14. those things on the list. I am a vegetarian though but I could switch and eat chicken and fish I think ink I an a Porto Potty Princess, so the outhouses no problem, the ciggies I use to smoke, so I can deal with it. It will strange to get my picture taken because I am ignored in the states. Basically I am invisible, here so that will take some adaptation. I also am scared to approach men due to fear of rejection. Oh you didn’t mention on your list about not having clothes available in your size or lack of hair products for black women. I am coming with a six month supply of Shea Moisture brand and then making my friend ship in to me.

    1. actually… clothes you can order online or have made… and Hair products… well you can go natural with organic and natural conditioners.. or you can wear wigs and weaves… there are many factories here you can buy hair… surprisingly… I think you can do it girl… welcome to China

  15. Lol this was so funny to read because so many things are similar to Korea. Getting stared at a ton, pics taken without my discretion, restrooms not having toilet paper, cigaretts everywhere, spitting on the side walk! So similar! But girl I couldnt deal with the diareha. Lol And im thankful the Korean government wants everyone and they mama to visit Korea so there are free flight ticket contest left and right. So thanfully the govt doesnt follow expats around….hmm or maybe they do and i just dont know. Lol this is a great post really because a lot of people can have a fantasy in their head of what they want the country to be like. ESPECIALLY in SK. Because of the Hallyu wave some girls have this mentality that Lee minho is going be walking down Gangnam street and aave her from getting hit bar a car and they fall in love like a kdrama….Lol real life is a million times different than Tv

    1. Debbie

      “Because of the Hallyu wave some girls have this mentality that Lee minho is going be walking down Gangnam street and aave her from getting hit bar a car and they fall in love like a kdrama….Lol real life is a million times different than Tv”


  16. why are they like this ….its savage like i hate to say…i mean come on i feel like a prissy woman just thinking of the stuff …ha!
    i have never heard anyone describe a country like this unless they were talking about the poverty stricken areas. but i recently read an article that said most of china is light years behind the west with all of the resources going to the major cities. but when you have outhouses in the middle of the street in developed areas what it up with that?

    1. Although, China has some very large cities with all the conveniences of the west… 60% of China is still 3rd world. People think because china has computers, cars, internet.. etc.. that it is like the west.. but… although the landscape is changing and the electronics are more available. The people are still 3rd world in their minds. you know you give a person that is uneducated a lot of money… it doesnt give them education… they still think like they are poor… most people here only have a middle school education… what do you expect?

      1. Adeola

        I am currently married to my husband (who is mandarin Chinese and I am Nigerian american), and I remember going out there to meet his family back in 2010. TISSUE AND SANITIZIER was a must! lol

    1. Yeah… it is really hard sometimes…. but …I have been here 4 years… and I have learned how to deal with most of these things.. sometimes… I have ghetto moments.. but my determination and strength… gets me thru…

      1. you are one tough girl cuz muist american men could not deal with this stuff ..the food stuff i can deal with for a week but four years i would be fighting to get back to the us… th electricity problems…i guess the place has too many damn people and its to be expec

        1. thanks… hehehe… I just compare it to America in like the 1940s…. like I have gone back in time. I refer to a lot of things my grandmama use to do…. it gets me thru a lot. But I think it has made me a stronger and better person.. I am so tolerant and able to adjust to alot.

  17. John Lee

    I remember when I went to the Southern part of China, I notice a red guard follow me around to see what I’m doing and where I go, I was with my family member, also when you check in they ask you all these questions like why are you coming here? Do you have any valueable and what they are and how much is it worth? If you are Chinese, they will ask if you have a Chinese name. This was back in the middle of 1980, I don’t know if they still do it. You are right about car, they have the right away, if you don’t move you get run over, I remember the way people drive, it was kind of crazy, the cab drivers always ask travelers, they have van cabs. But it was fun traveling there, you are right bout the bath room place.

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