I have been on a roll these days in my blog writing… it seems all of a sudden I have a lot to say…… There are some things that us “old timers” in China have learned not to do while we are living here…. I felt the need to write a blog for the “Newbies” to kind of help them out during their time in China. It will be much easier for your stay here, if you remember these things.
- Eating Western junk food – Eating at McDonald’s or KFC in China once in a while is okay. But when it’s all the time, you’ve got to wonder why the person left their own country at all. Unless you are making a large amount of money in China (most people are not), you should not eat at foreign fast-food chains. Why? Well…., first the food is expensive and the locals consider it a luxury meal. You should try to live like a Chinese person as much as you can. This means eating Chinese food and only going to Western restaurants occasionally. The benefit? Saving money and have a real Chinese experience… isn’t that why you came to China?
2. Expecting the same conditions they’re used to in their own country – This is a big one in my book. Many people have left China because they couldn’t adjust to the conditions. they basically were not trying to adjust. For Example, accommodations are usually pretty comfortable, but it is not going to hit the standards of Trump Towers. You should never expect to sleep on a super soft mattress or even have central air, particularly in China. You are not isolated but somethings are just not available, so you need to use substitutes like a toaster oven instead of a real big oven – they just don’t have them here… or hanging your clothes up to dry, no dryers here.
3. Complaining a lot – Newbies tend to complain about everything. …Really, everything. If you find yourself constantly complaining about things like the city you’re in, your job, your colleagues, Chinese culture, Chinese people, the language, the food…. then maybe China isn’t for you. Nothing is ever gonna be as good as back home, you are not going to find every special brand you like or special hair salon you like, etc. You need to realize that China isn’t going to change to fit you. If you’re totally unhappy and you don’t think there’s anything that will change that, leave China when your contract ends and save all of us from hearing your whining.
4. Refusing to learn any Mandarin – Yeah, there are many people out here that just will not even attempt to learn the language. As a foreign person in China, you should at least try learning a few basic words and expressions. There is always a Chinese person willing to teach you the language if you ask them. It really helps in everyday situations, like catching a taxi, buying food at the market and finding your way around. Also, you may not have an English speaker around you all the time, so learning a few phrases will not hurt you. You may even like it.
5. Breaking the golden rule – China is a socialist country and in many ways is quite conservative. So respect the country you’re in and avoid talking about sex, religion or politics. Many people will approach you and ask you questions regarding these topics, unless you know the person very well, I will find a way to change the subject. Sex is a taboo subject and people don’t talk about it openly, so it is best that you not even bring that into a conversation….. .that is unless you are trying to hook up with someone…but that is a different kind of blog…hehehe. As for religion and politics, these are sensitive subjects in China and highly controlled by state-run media. You need to stay out of these gray areas. Save these conversations for when you are talking to your foreign friends or your family on skype.
6. Choosing a job based on salary alone – This is so true…. usually high paying jobs in China have a catch… you will probably end up doing a lot of things that are in your job description and working longer hours than you would ever work in your own country. They do not pay high salaries for nothing. Choosing a job based on salary alone could be one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Some jobs may seem really tempting with a salary that could be twice or three times as much as what is offer at another place. However, the positions that offer the highest salaries generally expect you to work on weekends and may be even at night. In addition to the salary, you need to consider benefits like location, accommodation, working conditions and time off, if you are considering working in China.
7. Not making friends with Chinese people – People… if you come to China you need to make friends with the locals. You are in their country and who knows their country better than they do. There are some things you need Chinese people to help you with. For example, banking – sometimes you want to change; money there is a limit of how much money you can change to USD in China for foreigners. However, Chinese locals can change a considerably larger amount and sometime unlimited amounts. Another example, the Hospitals – in China if you have to spend time in the hospital overnight or longer, you need someone to stay with you – and bring you food and help you to the bathroom, etc. They do not provide that service to you free. One more would be when you are finding an apartment – some Chinese locals see that you are a foreigner and will increase the rental price, however, if you have a Chinese friend that can help with that process the chances of you getting cheated are slim.
8. Being Argumentative – losing your temper in China could probably be one of the worse things you can do. One you will be labeled the “Angry Unreasonable Foreigner“. In China, the saying “catch more flies with honey” holds true. When you face difficulties or issues in China, it is best to handle them in a calm, professional manner. Throwing a fit, or a chair… will only cause you more heartache. Chinese people are not confrontational people, if you make them angry they will get you back in other ways. For example, cancelling your visa documents, not paying you salary on time, giving you the shit jobs, or just completely not including you in anything. It can make your life a living hell. Remember their country, their rules.
Well, these are the things that come up off the top of my head, I am sure there are many more you “old-timers” can think of… which you are welcome to post in the comments so others can see. I feel sharing this information will help a lot of newcomers to adjust a little bit faster than I did when I first came to China.
until next time….