What No One Told You about Living in China

What No One Told You about Living in China

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Globalization has made it possible for us to get to know countries like China, but do we really understand them? Stay with VocApp and get to know what no one told you about living in China as a foreigner!

The ancient traditions of the oldest living civilization in the world are still far from being understood by foreigners that go to live in this country. If this is your case, VocApp is here with some tips and advice to prepare you for life in the People’s Republic of China!

And by the way, in case you want to learn Chinese, don’t forget to check out our Webstite at VocApp full of Chinese courses for you to learn from! For instants, you can check out our course Chinese in 1 day! But for now, continue reading about the amazingly interesting Chinese culture!

1. Chinese food from China is very different from the one you eat back home (it’s much better!)

Let’s start with a very good thing about China.  You have probably eaten Chinese food in your hometown or country before and it was good. But we have to warn you, in China many of your favorite dishes don’t actually exist. But don’t worry too much because you will find plenty of new dishes to try and fall in love with!

Depending on the region of China you go to, you will eat different flavored foods! This happens because the Country of the Middle is divided in 8 regional cuisines that change flavors from sweet, to spicy, to sour, to salty, and finally to bitter!

Ma po tofu (麻婆豆腐) is one of the most famous dishes in Sichuan Cuisine. Ma (麻) describes a spicy and hot taste which comes from pepper powder.

2. Get ready to download Wechat and Taobao!

What No One Told You about Living in China is that China is a mobile country! What we mean by this is that mobile apps are a must if you want to buy and pay for things! Living in China at times can be hard, but these apps will make your life so much easier!

Wechat is the biggest app in China and you can do basically anything with it! Apart for chatting with your friends and making posts about your everyday life, you can also pay your bills, buy bus, metro or cinema tickets and pay in shops everywhere! You just have to read the QRCode of the shop or show yours to the shop assistant and its payed.

As for Taobao, it is the biggest online shop in China. It can sell you almost anything you want and because of PRC’s extremely efficient delivery system you will receive your package in less than 3 days!

Pay at almost any shop with Wechat Pay.

3. Get a good VPN if you want to continue to use Google or Instagram!

Because of the infamous Great Firewall that exists to block access to selected foreign websites, internet tools like Google search, Facebook and Instagram, among many others, are inaccessible while you are on Chinese territory. However, there is a way to go around it called VPN.

What a VPN does is change your IP address to another country’s, where internet usage is free and without barriers. Nonetheless, our advice is for you to get a paid VPN because the new updates to the Wall have made it difficult for free VPN’s to pass through! But do not forget this is illegal. We will talk about the consequences ahead, so be sure to continue reading!

Use a good VPN if you want to access Google or Twitter in China.

4. Prepare to be more popular than any monument in a touristic spot!

Now some good news, or are they? Chinese people, particularly people from smaller regions of China have never seen a foreigner in real life. Which means that you will become the attraction when you go anywhere. These aspect can make living in China a bit complicated at times, but don’t let it bother you too much.

In spite of it, Chinese people like Americans and Europeans very much, as well as Russians, and will probably assume you are one and take your picture, with or without your permission! This will happen more often if you are Caucasian, as China is still close-minded at times and race is still perceived stereotypically. But do not despair because most people are just poorly educated about it and are very much willing to learn!

You will be asked to take picture in the streets.

5. You will be asked questions that you feel are too private to share!

As children growing up in western countries, we learn that it is rude to ask personal questions that are money related. On the other hand, money, salary and your position in a company are perceived in China as conversational topics for they represent your status in life. Because of this, you will probably be asked about how much you make in your country, how much your house costs and so on.

We advice you not to feel disrespected for it is a cultural matter. What you can do is explain that you do not feel comfortable answering because it is not a usual conversational topic where you come from. This topic can even start an interesting discussion about social norms!

Talking to new people is always an adventure.

6. Are you willing to eat dog or cat meat?

You were probably waiting to read about this right? Well, we are here to help you reveal the truth of this matter. And the truth is you will NOT be fed dog or cat meat if you go to a restaurant in China.

The stereotype came from the traditions of very specific regions in China that, unfortunately, do have this custom. However, young Chinese people do not enjoy this idea or concept at all, and dogs are a very loved pet.

They manly eat chicken and pork, but many dishes are simply vegetarian! You will only have to be careful in isolated regions and shady restaurants, nothing more.

Dogs caged in China.

7. You better get used to drinking hot beverages in warm summer days!

According to ancient Chinese medicine, cold water and drinks are bad for your organ’s function, so warm or hot drinks are considered to be better for your health. What happens then is that the majority of drinks are warm!

Even in the hottest southern summer, water and juices will not be in the fridge in small shops. And if you ask for a really cold icy drink, you will probably be looked at with shock!

Hot tea served in Chinese restaurants.

8. Ladies this part is for you!

It is that moment in the blog we tell you about hygienic products you can or cannot find in a Chinese supermarket!

Firstly, if you use tampons then we would like to inform they will be difficult to find in most Chinese shops! The sections for female products will instead be filled with pads and similar products! Plus, deodorants do not have the variety you are used to in your hometown! Our advice? Pack accordingly to your needs, you will thank us later!

Common female hygiene hall in a Chinese supermarket.

9. How safe will you be in the streets of China?

The answer is: very safe! Apart from the usual harmless drunk man that only wants to train his knowledge in English words with you, Chinese streets are incredibly safe! Most likely it is because they are all motorized with cameras, and security guards are also frequent.

The only thing you have to worry about is pocket thiefs in busy buses and metro stations. Make sure to put your bag in front of you when going in these hectic public transportation! You also should be careful about crossing crossroads, because the cars are not expected to stop if you want to pass by foot. Instead you have to wait until cars do not come, or run if they are still far! 

Busy Chinese street.

10. What will get you arrested for in the People’s Republic of China?

 The answer is much simpler than you think: stealing and fighting in clubs and bars. VPN is illegal but most people use it, and it is therefore not so dangerous or taboo. Also, talking freely about political opinions is not a matter to censor and put you in jail! As long as you don’t go to Tiananmen Square with a cardboard that spells “Free Tibet” you will be OK.

With this being said, we advice you to register in your local police station soon when you arrive, because you can be asked for ID at some point and if you are not part of the system you could go to jail.

Ordinary street police in China.

Now you have finished reading VocApp’s What No One Told You about Living in China! Continue reading our blogs for more Top 10’s or other interesting posts about language and culture!

Make sure to also discover our big variety of courses of you to learn Chinese! After you have checked out Chinese in 1 Day that we mentioned earlier, continue your study with HSK 1 and HSK 2 Exams made to support your studies of the chinese language and improve your level!

With VocApp you can discover much more and conquer new languages and skills! Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to read our daily posts on language and be sure to check out our Website at VocApp to discover more courses and lessons made just for you!

Written by Bárbara Marques 

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