Culture Shock: A Clueless American's Reflections On Visiting China
Start writing a post

Culture Shock: A Clueless American's Reflections On Visiting China

Looking back on one of the most diverse experiences of my life!

Culture Shock: A Clueless American's Reflections On Visiting China
Kaley Makino

As Americans, I think it's easy for us to take for granted the luxuries of our western lifestyle and difficult for us to wrap our minds around how different (and often great) other cultures can be.
A couple of years ago, I spent three weeks in China on a People-to-People trip, and man, there were some culture shocks absolutely nobody warned me about. So, my goal for this jumbled compilation is to enlighten some of my fellow travel bugs, and be a source of information for those interested in the different aspects of other walks of life.

If you're a little lost in what I'm saying, here's an example.

Bathrooms. I was more or less certain that as long as you weren't in the Sahara, there are toilets, and all toilets looked the same. Boy, was that wrong. And toilet paper is a given? Not necessarily. From my experience, in China you're expected to carry around Kleenex, or you can do as I did and beg the fairly confused Chinese waitress to give you a pack of napkins, which is something I had to do so often, I brought a pack home as a souvenir. Little gruesome, I apologize, but hey, this is the truth, and I don't want you to be the one American laughed at by the locals for screaming upon opening the stall, which is something many of us P2P guys did more than once. Also, in China, it is common place to see little kids stop and pee in the middle of a public place, which is why most babies and toddlers run around in crotchless pants. See what I'm saying now? These are just not things we experience in America. And in this particular case, I'm not complaining. I am sadly just a little too westernized to give up standard plumbing for the ever-popular "squatter" (hole-in-the-ground toilet).

Don't be too worried, though. You won't stick out too badly.

There are some things that remain the same, such as most aspects of fashion. General rule being the bigger the city, the more stylish the individuals. I think that's true just about everywhere. In China, women's shoes seemed to be the main difference. They are straight up wonky. I'm talking straps, buckles, holes and so many platforms, it's almost comical. Though I must say, toward the end of the trip, I distinctly remember growing fonder of them. Leave me there a week longer, and I probably would've snagged a pair. Certain things grow on you, I swear.

Now, here's something for the girls to know: Men of other cultures are bold but not in the cat-cally way they are here. It's more like a "rub my bare stomach while smiling and possibly winking at you" type of flirtation. But, they felt a lot more harmless in Asia, which is something to appreciate.

OK, back to something everyone can relate to: the food. Don't even get me started. They have corn flavored gummies here. Why anyone would want one is beyond me, but still, having the option is pretty fantastic. Most courses consist of several types of stir fry and rice served family-style on a monster Lazy Susan for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The use of any dairy products seemed sparse, which at the time, I was whiny about, but now, I can appreciate. However, I would definitely advise to be careful with what you're eating. I once mistook a pig's foot for a pork chop and blood soup for tomato. This is not a joke.

Those are just a few of the big things, but even with its weird toilets and strange dudes, I wouldn't trade my experience in China for anything. It took me out of my comfort zone but in the best way possible. And honestly, the biggest thing is the people. Besides all the difference you encounter in travel, there are three things that never change: Smiles never hurt, patience is key and as long as you're going in with an open mind, you'll conquer the worst of it (which is, hands down, those darn squatters).

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

No Sex And Upstate New York

A modern-day reincarnation of Carrie Bradshaw's classic column


Around the age of 12, when I was deciding whether or not to be gay, Satan appeared on my left shoulder. “Ramsssey,” he said with that telltale lisp. “Come over to our side. We have crazy partiessss.” He made a strong case, bouncing up and down on my shoulder with six-pack abs and form-fitting Calvin Kleins. An angel popped up on the other shoulder and was going to warn me about something, but Satan interrupted- “Shut up, you crusty-ass bitch!’ The angel was pretty crusty. She disappeared, and from that moment forward I was gay.

Keep Reading... Show less

To The Classes That Follow

I want you to want to make the most of the years that are prior to Senior year

To The Classes That Follow
Senior Year Is Here And I Am So Not Ready For It

I was you not that long ago. I was once an eager freshman, a searching sophomore, and a know-it-all junior. Now? Now I am a risk taker. Not the type that gets you in trouble with your parents, but the type that changes your future. Senior year is exciting. A lot of awesome things come along with being the top-dog of the school, but you, right now, are building the foundation for the next 4 years that you will spend in high school. I know you've heard it all. "Get involved", "You'll regret not going to prom", "You're going to miss this". As redundant as these seem, they're true. Although I am just at the beginning of my senior year, I am realizing how many lasts I am encountering.

Keep Reading... Show less

The Power Of Prayer Saved My Best Friend's Life

At the end of the day, there is something out there bigger than all of us, and to me, that is the power of prayer.

Julie Derrer

Imagine this:

Keep Reading... Show less

Why Driving Drives Me Crazy

the highways are home


With Halloween quickly approaching, I have been talking to coworkers about what scares us. There are always the obvious things like clowns, spiders, heights, etc. But me? There are a number things I don't like: trusting strangers, being yelled at, being in life or death situations, parallel parking. All of these are included when you get behind the wheel of a car.

Keep Reading... Show less
Baseball Spring Training Is A Blast In Arizona
Patricia Vicente

Nothing gets me more pumped up than the nice weather and the sights and sounds of the baseball season quickly approaching.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments