So, for this summer I decided to do something a bit different. Instead of my usual laying in the sun, swimming in the cold sea, or staying at home and binge watching Netflix. My summer plan was a trip to China, to not only explore but also to teach English as a foreign language.
I’ve been on my little adventure for just over a week now, not only has it been tremendously rewarding, it has, of course, been fascinating. China is a place often quite distant in our Western minds, the culture and language is strange to us. And coming here, as really emphasised to me the differences between us and them. In some ways negative, while in other ways quite positive. As I’m only part way through my trip, I thought I’d note down some interesting differences in China, so heads up to anyone planning on visiting these are a few things to look out for…
- The food.
As I’ve currently being living off canteen food I can’t say I have extensive knowledge, but even after a week Chinese cuisine you notice a difference. Most of the food is fried or boiled, this is mostly what the vegetables are like, which are covered in sea salt granules making all veg particularly salty. The meat (for those who have been eating it) have found it to be either chewy or just a odd texture, most of the time no one is sure what animal the meat comes from. Watermelon is a big deal, as its should be, it’s so sweet and refreshing.
- The children love homework.
As the stereotype often goes, Chinese pupils are very studious, and this applies to all ages. I’ve been teaching grade one, they are only seven but already they say their hobbies include homework. They do work every night after lesson, and have agreed to spend their summer at their school learning English, so if that doesn’t show their love for school I don’t know what would.
- The toilets.
In Asia, toilets can be quite different. Majority of public loos don’t have ‘normal’ western seated toilets, they have squatter loos, which mean when one needs to go, they have to stand and aim. For men, this is a easy action, for women however this can be a challenge. For me, I have been avoiding public toilets for this reason, if I have to, I do, but otherwise I prefer to hold it in.
- The staring.
I had been told before departing the UK, about the celebrity like treatment of white people in China, but even so I was quite shocked at how fascinated people are with us. Walking along the streets, it’s usual to have around two people at once taking photos or videos of us. They don’t ask, and try to make it subtle by talking to the camera or smiling, which though it might be possibly they are just taking selfies it’s rather odd that the camera follows us around. It’s weird how in such a modern time, with such advanced technologies how people still see us as photo worthy sites, you can’t help wonder what they do with the photos. So, if you plan on a visit to China, be prepared to be constantly being hampered by the paparazzi.
- The badly worded t-shirts.
Chinese people are quite fashionable and often to keep up with modern fashion in the West they try to wear clothes with English words on them, however this English is often misspelt or incomprehensible. You frequently find people suggesting the strangest of things about life or PowerPoint, they vary in context and usually make no sense. I think either the translation service is very poor, or there’s an English person having a good laugh at Chinese people assuming these t-shirts mean something.