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Experiencing Cultural Shock In China

Living in a country halfway across the world is definitely going to bring some cultural differences. Some are good, some are bad, and all of them are certainly interesting.

I've lived in China for 5 months now, and as soon as I stepped off the plane, there were some differences I noticed that were so different to both Zambia and the UK. As the months have gone on, I've noticed how so many things are different over here compared to anywhere else, and I want to share them with you!

The first thing I've noticed is that phones are absolutely everywhere and it's impossible to escape. Over in England, there's a whole thing with young people being on their phones too much but over here, everyone is doing it, from teenagers to grandparents.

It's so strange entering a bus or the subway and seeing everyone (not exaggerating) with their heads bent down scrolling on their phones. It's makes me think about how different our cultures are and what counts as acceptable too.

The next thing is that if you're visibly foreign, you're gonna get stared at A LOT, and have your photo taken for good measure. I've only ever been intensely stated at in some areas of the UK, but this is a whole new level. Imagine walking outside and having everyone stop what they're doing, start pointing, whispering, and whipping their phones out to start recording you. It's so overwhelming!

Usually it doesn't bother me; I can go through the day and it won't phase me but when I'm upset about something or not in the best of moods it bothers me a lot. If you're ever in China, be prepared for that.

Another thing is that queue jumping is totally normal here. For someone who grew up in the UK, having someone push in front of me in the queue lowkey ticks me off, but here it's a totally normal thing. Don't be surprised when you suddenly end up at the back of the queue when you were so close to the front, or if people physically push you out of the way, especially older people. That's just how the culture is here and no matter how annoying it is, I've learned to adapt and jump back in place!

Having no cold water is another thing different about China. People here prefer drinking warmer water, even in summer because it's healthier for you, so when you go into a restaurant whether it's Chinese or western, you'll be served with a glass of warm water when you're seated. I love warm water so it doesn't bother me one bit, but it's so different from what I'm used to. Waiters even come round to your table and refill your glass with warm water when you're done! Some restaurants even have stations where you can add fruits or herbs to your water for extra benefits, like chrysanthemum, goji berries and cloves.

One thing I have noticed about Chinese girls is that they're always dressed to impress, especially in summer. Their outfits are so pristine and lovely and it's so weird because in the UK if you dressed up, people would ask you why you're dressed up, but here no one questions it. From teenagers to young adults, to mums dressing their children (even some grandmas) the ladies here always look so photoshoot ready it's easy to feel underdressed, especially if you're a fan of jeans and t-shirts like me!

The last thing I'll talk about is how smoking and spitting here are so commonplace. Now, I was raised where you had to go in designed areas to smoke, but here, anyone can smoke anywhere; in the car, in a restaurant, in any part of a building. Smoking is a nasty habit and I really do not like this part of living in China, but it's just what happens.

Spitting is also very common, but only amongst older people. And it's not normal light spitting you sometimes see at home, this one comes from somewhere deep down in the gut. The sound alone is awful and it makes me shudder whenever I hear it to be honest.

Those are some cultural things I've seen here in my almost 6 months in China (how crazy is that!) Some of these are really negative, but it's the reality and there's no point in forcibly being positive all the time.

One thing I'll say about moving to a country with a different culture is if you accept things as the way they are, instead of constantly comparing to the way life is back home, you'll be much happier. Yes, some things aren't perfect but you will not survive if all you do is complain about your new life. I've learned that the best course of action is to just observe and understand that this is the way of life here.

It's doesn't do you any good to always err on the side of negativity!

I hope you enjoyed this post! There are a few more I can think of, but I don't want this post to be too long and I think this is good for now. Please down below tell me of any cultural differences you've come across while travelling!

I'll see you in the next one!