Culture shock is defined as the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life or set of attitudes. Whether going to China for business or pleasure, you may encounter difficulties adapting to the Chinese culture, way of life and attitudes. Here are some tips to minimize the discomfort of Chinese culture shock.
FOOD – Once in China, you will be overwhelmed with new foods, whether in cafeterias, restaurants, or at the grocery store. Your stomach will not be acclimated to the cooking ingredients that Chinese people use and you may become sick because of this and have diarrhea. Fear not, this will not last for more than two weeks or so, once your body has adapted to the food. Eating street food is the surest way to get sick in your first weeks in China, so if you want to minimize the likelihood of getting sick, then you need to avoid street food for the first month of your stay in China. The upside of this sickness is that you might lose a few extra pounds. The Chinese diet lacks butter and milk and relies heavily on eating rice so over time you will unquestionably lose a few pounds.
LANGUAGE- If you don’t know Mandarin or Cantonese when you arrive in China for work, study, or travel, you will feel overwhelmed when communicating with people. Simple daily tasks will seem difficult whether ordering food from a restaurant, checking out of a hotel, purchasing a product from a store, or trying to get directions. Typically, Chinese college students speak some English; they will be eager to practice and assist a foreigner in trouble so don’t be bashful about approaching them to help you in any situation.
EXPATRIATES- When first entering China you will want to meet Chinese people, but it is always good to make a few expatriate friends. They will help you adapt to China, offer you recommendations on where to eat, live, exercise, and make China your new home. Use the internet to search for expatriate websites that will help you find eateries, establishments, and services that cater to foreigners in China; many expatriate run websites are specifically designed to help you find room, board, and entertainment in your particular city.
TRANSPORTATION- Riding a bicycle is the number one form of transportation in China whether you are biking to school, work or the market. Purchasing a bike is a necessity in China and be sure to grab a couple locks to protect your transportation from thieves. Maps of subways and bus routes are easily available via the internet.
BANKING – Feeling financially secure in a foreign country can seem daunting. You are used to depositing your hard earned money in a trusted FDIC insured bank. Fear not, many American banks have branches located in China and if you go to your local bank or perform internet research, you can find out what cities they do have operations in. Large international banks, like Citigroup, will have tellers that speak English and can easily help you with deposits, withdraws, and transfers from your domestic account.
MEDICAL TREATMENT- Chinese medical and dental treatment is catching up with Western practices and may seem much different than what you have expected. Understand that these medical professionals have received years of training in their field and will do the best they can with what technology they have to assist you in your health issues. For example, if you happen to catch pneumonia, you will be given an IV of morphine and given Chinese prescriptions. Have faith that the medical establishment knows what types of pills successfully treat your ailment.
FOREIGNERS AS TARGETS- To the vast majority of Chinese people, you will be a welcomed guest to their country and they will be excited to interact with you, and ask you questions about your country. But to the criminal mind in China, foreigners are seen as easy targets, and one reason is that they perceive you to be wealthy. A prime spot for criminals to target you is on public transportation, whether it be the subway or the bus. Wear your backpacks on the front side of your body, and pay close attention to your personal possessions, because thieves often work in teams.