Before coming to China I was told many things are done differently here. Some would say backwards. These have many reactions varying from disgust, surprise, disappointment, excitement, and remembering all cross cultural training from college to recognize that things here are not necessarily wrong, just different. So different.
Before I get to that, here are most of my students in the Deer Classroom:
Some noteable differences include:
- People Park Their Car Anywhere and Everywhere. Literally wherever they want. This includes in the middle of the road, on the sidewalk, in front of the gate to your apartment complex, on the sidewalk in front of a restaurant. You name it. If you think your car can fit somewhere, you can park there. From a driving perspective it is awesome. From an everything else perspective, it is just ridiculous.
- The heat is turned on in the summer. It is like 90 degrees or so outside during the afternoon here when the children should be napping at school. Since my office is also the children’s napping area, I get to see this every day. I typically set the air conditioning to a nice 25 C, or 77 F. When they nap they turn my air conditioning off and change the temperature up from 25C (77F) to 29C (84F), which is quite toasty. So I guess technically this is still cooler than outside, but sometimes they will just straight up turn the AC off during naptime which will lead my room to become in the 90s during naptime, in the heat of the afternoon.
- They often have air conditioning on with the window wide open next to it. ‘Nuff said.
- Lights are turned off more than they are on. At our apartment complex there are these awesome lights along the walkway that light up the sidewalks. They are only lit until like 8 or 9pm, after that they are turned off. Even better than this is that at the school’s gymnasium, instead of lighting the hallways to the rooms, the pool, and the gym, the staff uses flashlights to walk around and lead people to the room. When we went to play Ping Pong, they only turned the lights on over the table we were playing on instead of the same room. Not that electricity is expensive here – as far as I can understand it is much cheaper than the states.
- The electronics are different. Electronics have two prongs, not 3, and they are not polarized, which means that they do not have 2 different sized prongs. I have so far fried my computer speakers and my hot water heater trying to use their electricity. And that’s with a voltage converter and proper adapters.
- Hot soup or noodles are served 3 meals a day. Most notably including breakfast. While I enjoy hot soup and noodles for dinner, I find that eating hot soup for breakfast during the summer to be just, well, different.
- They do not drink ice water. Chinese people do not really drink ice water at all. They have hot water instead, often unflavored hot water. We got drinks and popcorn at the movie theater and they gave us a warm lemon tea water instead of ice water or something. This makes the ice bucket challenge much more of a challenge, really. It is hard to find ice!
- Traffic does not use turn signals. This can be very confusing. Many times people walking, biking, driving a moto scooter, or driving, will simply drive straight at you. With no turn signals, it makes it hard to get out of their way. Especially if you cannot see the motos because their lights are not on in the middle of the night. That is a thing.
- Kindergarten and preschool here is loooooong. The students are here 9-10 hours each day. Compared to most preschools in the States that are only a few hours long, this is quite extensive.
- Meetings, and everything else, are done last minute here. The Chinese work system does not really consider your personal out-of-work life important. So they will often ask you to do things very last minute without considering that you might have personal plans. We have a good understanding at this point with the school about this, that if we are not told at least 1 week in advance, that it probably will not happen if it is outside of work hours. We have a good cultural excuse. The Chinese work long, long hours, like 10-11 hrs a day at the Kindergarten and are typically not paid any more than 8 hours of work per day.
- Most children, before they are potty trained, pee in the street. In fact, they do not even have diapers on. They just wear sort of little pants with giant holes underneath. I would post a photo of this but I feel that it would be inappropriate. So when they need to go, they go, pretty much wherever they want. I have seen kids peeing in the ‘hospital,’ on sidewalks, in the grass, over grates, over trash containers, pretty much wherever. Just today a kid peed right in front of the entrance to the school, right between where the students wash their hands and before they have their temperature checked by the nurse. With no effort by anyone to clean it up. I guess that’s why the new laminate floor in the entrance to the school is yellow!
-While Traffic is Scary, Bicycling Is Quite Safe, and Slow Here. We bought the fastest bikes we could find for under $200. They cost about $50 each, and they are low quality Chinese single speeds. My bottom bracket is creaking already. I do not think it will survive. However, we live about 1 mile away from the school so it is about a 9 minute bike ride to school and 9 minute ride back. Very slow, easy, and nice. There are giant bike lanes and sidewalks separated by trees from the main road, which makes cycling feel much safer than the states. Suburban areas in the USA are scary to bike in. Mind you, we bike THROUGH some very polluted air and water, but at least we are not competing with cars going 60 MPH next to us.
- Meat is chopped, not separated. The bones are not removed from the meat here, so eating it can be a bit of a challenge. Instead of having a section on the lunch tray for milk, there is a section on the lunch tray for spitting out bones and things like this.
There is much more that we are missing, but that will have to do for now! Thanks for reading, and feel free to Skype or WeChat us sometime! We’d love to talk!
I should also note that I have been adding a photo each day on Instagram at instagram.com/dshinabarger . Let me know if you want to see pictures of anything in particular! It seems like most people like pictures better than text anyways :)
Thanks for reading!