Here are my top tips for foreigners moving to China! Topics include Chinese food, relationships with Chinese people, Chinese language, and warnings to help you cope with culture shock.
Before moving to China, I was worried that I wouldn’t like Chinese food, but the more time I’ve spent here, the more I learn and love about Chinese food culture.
The only true way to experience all of China’s cuisines would be to travel to each location where the food originates, but that would take an obscene amount of time. For the next best thing, you can visit restaurants that specialize in a particular region’s delicacies in the city where you live.
Because you’ll be in a new unfamiliar place, it’s easy to come here and cling to a group of foreigners, but don’t fall into the trap of befriending only foreigners.
It’s really easy to make Chinese friends because they’ll often approach you and ask questions. The typical questions include where you’re from, why you’re here, how old you are, and then it can get a little more personal. Upon first introducing yourself to someone, don’t be surprised if they ask if you have a girlfriend or boyfriend, and how much money you make.
“What if I don’t speak Chinese? Will I be okay?” That’s a question I’m often asked. The dirty truth is: yes, sadly, you would be okay if you just learned a couple of useful phrases. But do try to improve your Chinese at least a little while you’re living here.
You don’t need to be fluent in Chinese to earn some respect; just show that you are interested in the culture by spending a little time studying and it’ll pay off in the long run.
China is a great place to live, but it can catch you off guard sometimes. Here are a few warnings for those prone to culture shock.
In smaller cities, people will stare at you because you look different. But in larger cities it doesn’t happen as much.
Many western concepts of racism don’t carry over into China. Racial profiling is much more prominent here, especially in regards to employment.
If you’re overweight, don’t be surprised if your Chinese friend calls you fat. It’s not that they’re trying to be rude; they’re just candid.
Waiting in a queue can be a frustrating experience because people often cut in line. The first-come-first-serve mentality is something that the older Chinese generations can’t seem to drop, but the younger generation is more polite regarding this.
If I could only offer one tip to a total newcomer to China, I would say: just come with an optimistic outlook and an open mind. As someone who has lived here for more than three years, moving to China was one of the best decisions of my life, and I’m still learning new things every day. Who knows, maybe you’ll fall in love with China, too!
Thanks for watching.