I have survived my first and second week in China!!! It’s all a blur. I can remember bits and pieces of the last two weeks, but mostly, between getting sick, no sleep, and thrusting myself into six classes consisting of 50 eight year old students in ONE day, I’m a little bit dazed. Happy, but absolutely stunned by this place. Culture shock at it’s finest.
Before moving to China, while I was in Cambodia and in the States, I was constantly on the receiving end of opinions and ideas of Chinese culture, horror stories of expat culture shock, and warnings of what to expect from Wuhan. As of now, I’m finding that many of these assumptions and anecdotes were really just the products of viewing Chinese culture through a Western perspective. So far, most of these tall tales and nightmarish stories I was told are quickly turning into inaccurate portrayals, and just plain stupid ideas of expat life in Wuhan. Here is the first “myth” that Wuhan has consistently busted over and over again within these last two weeks.
Myth #1: Chinese people aren’t nice
In case you were wondering, yes–this falls into the category of a “just plain stupid” . My roommate and I were told by several expats in Cambodia that we would NOT like China because “Chinese people are just rude! They don’t like Westerners!” We were even told the solemn tale of a girl who had also done the program in Cambodia, loved it, and then when she moved to China for six months, she did not make a single friend. Not one.
I can’t speak for all of China, but the people I’ve met in Wuhan thus far, expats and locals alike, are awesome. Within the first week, I received unbelievably pleasant and selfless assistance from at least 10 random Wuhanese strangers, and exchanged countless smiles, “Ni haos” and laughs with the locals who have fallen victim to my toddler-esque Mandarin communication skills. If I viewed Wuhan natives through with the eyes of my learned Western ideals and standards, I might actually have some trouble loving the people here. My idea of what is rude in the States is no longer relevant or applicable. I am in China. I must learn and accept with grace the ideals and standards of Wuhan people. From there, everything is relative to those ideals. This state of mind makes getting pushed off a metro or almost run over by a moto easy to laugh at. One such example is the way that people eat here. It is NOT rude to eat with your mouth open here. It’s actually considered rude to eat quietly!!! Instinctually, it bugs me, and I have a hard time not fixating on it. But guess what??? Here, eating loudly shows the cook how appreciative you are of the food. Mind blown, right? It makes sense. It’s not what I’m used to, but I’m in China. Calm down and get over myself. That particular habit will take a while for me to get used to, but because I know the reasoning behind the habit, I can appreciate it, respect it, and consciously avoid fixating on it. Simple, simple.
I must finish by apologising for the lack of photos. I have yet to take any quality photos and the ones on this particular post are the sad excuses for photos that my phone takes. Enjoy!