Breaking cultural stereotypes while making friends in exotic places. My recent trip to Beijing has opened my eyes as an American and as I now focus on finishing my degree in Educational Consulting, I hope to share my experiences and knowledge with others so they too can make a difference in the lives of others and their community.
Friday, August 24, 2018
5 Reasons You Shouldn't Travel To China
There are many reasons people decide to travel. Some people like to stay within their home country and to see what another region has to offer. Other people travel for leisure. They enjoy the time spent away from work and soaking up the much-needed vitamin D. Sometimes, people get to travel for work and can separate their time away from home with some sight-seeing and meeting the locals.
I’m taking a diversity class this semester and I’ve already learned that some people in my class aren’t going to like what other people have to say about certain topics. I’m an American, born and raised in Nowhere, Wisconsin. My upbringing was simple and normal. Most German Americans in Nowhere, Wisconsin, grew up like me in the countryside, hidden away by miles of cornfields and rolling meadows of flowers.
Yet, I’m different from my family. Most of my family hasn’t left the country nor do they wish to. My great uncle has only left the county twice in his life and one time he was only over the border by ten miles. My German American family is set in their roots and grew up as farmers. Nothing mattered besides farming and farming was the main source of income. This isn’t what the situation is today. No one farms in my family, not anymore. My dad grew up milking cows all the way through high school, but shortly after the farm went broke.
I grew up around cattle, chickens, sheep, and a goat named Billy. (He hated me, and I hated him!) For the last four years, we’ve only had a handful of chickens on the farm. Things have changed since I was little and as I’m learning in my diversity class, times will continue to change and the people who can adjust to the changing times will be the ones who find the most pleasure out of life.
There are many things, as an American, I grew up hearing and was told about minorities. The Hmong society in my community was virtually an unknown to me until recently. I actively went out to speak to the Hmong community because I was interested in the similarities and differences between my culture, their culture, and the Chinese culture.
And therefore, this article is being written. People travel to foreign countries for many reasons. I traveled to China because I love the Asian culture and I wanted to learn more. You may travel to China for a completely different reason. I’m here to tell you five reasons why you shouldn’t travel to China. If you fit into any of these ten reasons, you may want to readvise your understanding of the Chinese culture because the cultural shock will not be the only thing that could cause you to feel uncomfortable.
Number 1: Can You Deal With Culture Shock?
I feel like this is the most common issue people have when traveling to another country, especially if they plan on living or staying in the country for an extended period of time.
I suffered from culture shock for about a week-in-a-half. I’ve mentioned it before in other blog posts of how I was so scared and uncomfortable that I wouldn’t leave the apartment complex or my room without someone.
China is different. Without listing the differences, I can say that the Chinese culture is not run like a democracy. People don’t have the freedom of religion or the right to protest the government and even though people occasionally protest on the streets, the risks of imprisonment or death are a real concern.
As an expat or foreigner, you may be treated better than the average Chinese citizen. The Chinese government wants people to come to China, it helps their economy.
If you decide to travel outside the norm by not touring the country through state-run tour groups, you may find yourself feeling lost. This is normal, and it will pass. I suggest you take the time to interact with the locals around where you are staying. There are security personnel and police officers on every street corner that can help you if you are lost.
Number 2: Do You Speak Chinese?
I wish I would have known about this before I left for China. I would’ve started practicing some basic Chinese like the numbers and greetings six months to a year before.
As a college student, I have limited time for extracurricular activities. I left three days after the semester ended and four days after I finished four finals. My brain was fried. I barely had enough time to pack before I was sitting in a plane for sixteen plus hours.
Less than one and every one-hundred Chinese people can speak English and the ones who can speak English may only know how to ask you four questions: your age, country of origin, family, and boyfriend or girlfriend.
The only places I saw English in Beijing was in the subways, on the busses, in some Western fast-food restaurants, and in my host family’s house. Many times, the numbers are in Chinese and for the descriptions for items and food. KFC is Beijing was completely in Chinese.
Do not go over to China thinking that you’ll make it by only knowing English. I suggest learning the bare minimum like how to say “hello” and “goodbye”. The locals will welcome you and be excited to know that you have tried to learn some of their language.
Number 3: Are You in China to Learn or Party?
I must warn people about the nightlife in Beijing. I’m not sure if partying is as common in other Chinese cities with foreigners as it is in Beijing, but please be aware of the risks.
Some streets are known for drinking.
There are 30 million more men in China than women. Part of this is because of the one-child policy. Many families wanted the boys because they would pass on the family name. This has changed with time.
In Eastern Beijing, in San Li Tun, drinking and partying is known. This was the first place I was invited to when I arrived. I politely declined and explained I didn’t drink alcohol. I was lucky, the people who invited me weren’t offended by me saying no to their invitation. This may not be the case for all people. It is seen as impolite to refuse a cigarette from an older individual and to decline food and drink. This includes alcohol.
Also, many Chinese men are at tourist hotspots for drinking, partying, and clubbing looking for hookups and girlfriends. Be aware that you may be approached by Chinese men who will pay for your alcohol and want to start a conversation. Please be responsible and never go to these places, regardless if you are male or female, by yourself.
There are a lot of police crackdowns at these places and I suggest you have your visa and passport on you just in case the bar you are at is raided. If you’re in China to study, stay away from the bars. You’re better off hanging out with your new friends at an expensive restaurant than possibly spending a night in jail for obnoxious behavior. You could be deported, and Americans are known to be heavy drinkers and to do things that are not appropriate. Be responsible.
Number 4: Are You in China Looking for Your Soulmate?
As stated above, there is a significant surplus of men in China. If you’re in China for love, be aware of what you say when you meet the opposite sex. Chinese men will approach you and ask if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend. It may be one of the first things they ask you.
Never say that you are “open-minded”. This means that you are open to casual sex. Yes, sex! If this isn’t what you mean, don’t say it. Instead, say, “I’m looking for a meaningful relationship.”
Number 5: Are You Ready for the Time Change?
Beijing is thirteen hours ahead of Central Time. I had to learn to switch my day and night. It was easier for me because I’m a night owl back home and I decided to stay awake the entire time I was traveling (over twenty-four hours) so I would be tired when I arrived.
If you struggle with sleeping, China may not be the place to go. Meal times are significantly different from the United States of America. I’m used to eating breakfast at 7 a.m., lunch at noon, and supper at 5 p.m. When I was in Beijing, I ate breakfast at 7 a.m., lunch at 2 p.m., and supper at 7 or 8 p.m. Lunches were usually only small sandwiches or snacks. The real meal came at night.
If you make any friends while in China, this may be the norm. I ate snacks all the time.
You may have noticed that I didn’t give a direct reason why you shouldn’t visit China. I instead shared practical issues that may make you uncomfortable when you arrive.
Are you ready for the culture shock? If not, research how to overcome culture shock before you arrive by visiting this website.
Do you speak some Chinese? If not, start practicing with Chinese Skill, a free app that has interactive ways to learn Chinese. The app has visuals, opportunities to write Chinese phonetically, to practice the tones, and so much more.
Are you in China to party? If so, be aware of the risks. Starting a bar fight will not help you become welcomed by the Chinese community. You may be deported and spend some time in a Chinese jail.
Are you looking for a relationship? If so, don’t think that dating is like what you’re used to. Before you step into this part of your life, research how marriage and relationships work in China by visiting this website.
Are you ready for the time change? If not, start training your body by staying up later at night and sleeping in longer in the morning. This will help with the initial shock.
I had an amazing time in Beijing, So can you!
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