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Culture Shock in China

businesswoman woman holding two masksChina is an Asian developing country with a different culture, and as such, people visiting China from other countries or foreigners living in China can sometimes face a culture shock.

What to expect
Chinese people are generally quite friendly and hospitable. The country has a collective culture that values society over individuals. Expect a lot of friendly warmth in China.

Unexpected lunch and dinner invites to strangers are common here. Do not expect everyone whom you encounter to understand English, even in China hospitals. Bigger cities have a considerable English speaking population, but taxi drivers and domestic helpers do not generally understand English. Foreign visitors, especially children, are generally given a lot of attention by being pointed or stared at. This is general curiosity and you should try not to get offended by it. Check out
The Chinese concept of privacy and personal space is quite different, as such, people might stand or sit too close to you or your children without meaning any actual harm. People will generally rush past you or push you without saying an ‘excuse me.’ In fact, Don’t be scared to use your own elbows to make way for yourself.

Chinese food will is probably not going to be what you’re used to in your home country. So be prepared to try different delicacies that are part of the Chinese cuisine.

Dealing with it
Do not be surprised if a stranger asks you or your children about age, marital status, and so on. Be tolerant when people spit in public. It is a cultural habit. Do not be too individualistic, since China has a collective culture that values common good. Do not refuse an invitation for lunch or dinner, and rather reschedule it if possible. Try to explore the Chinese cuisine as much as possible and do not criticize Chinese food and people.

Giving too eagerly to beggars may become problematic, as beggars are a common sight in China. Smile and get photographed with the local people because foreigners are often asked to do so. Learn to say ‘no’ to vendors and shopkeepers who would approach you or your children frequently for selling things.
Queues are generally disregarded in China and hence you will need to make way for yourself to the counter by pushing and stepping forward. People will mostly step ahead of you if you do not assert your position. Remember, personal space is not valued the same in China, so stand as close as possible to the person ahead of you to reserve your spot.

No matter how stark the cultural difference in China may be, China possesses a very distinct and ancient culture that is surely worth exploring. Chinese food is varied across landscapes and provinces and is surely worth giving a shot. The natural beauty of China with its rivers and mountains is also a captivating reason for tourists to visit this wonderful, place.


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Founders of havingababyinchina.com, Jeremy and Jacquelyn have four children. The first three were born in three different hospitals in China and the last was born at home in the US. Jeremy and Jacquelyn created havingababyinchina.com in 2009 after they found little information for foreigners having babies in China. They love connecting with other foreigners having babies. Learn more about them on the about page.

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