You regularly buy Chinese food, love kungfu movies, and now, with so many jobs supposedly going to China, its time to pack your bags, hop on a plane and go live where you truly belong. Before you get so excited about all the Kung fu films, hear me out: My name is Shareen Michelle Williams, and during my career as a teacher in Beijing, I have discovered that China has a rich history of doing things their way, which definitely creates a few quirks and strange behaviors along the way, especially for unprepared Westerners. Let me make your experience less overwhelming.
Presenting five culturally shocking behaviors you might notice while in China
1. Chopsticks should not be placed upright in a bowl.
Placing chopsticks upright in a rice bowl is reminiscent of burning Chinese incense sticks — a ritual made as an offering to the dead. Chopsticks should also not be used in your hands when making a gesture.
2. Staring and Taking Pictures
From the airport to the restaurants in China and even on your way to work, people will stare at you everywhere you go. Don’t take offense. Chinese find anything other than themselves quite interesting. In other countries, when someone is caught staring at you, they will usually look away once you notice. They won’t. You might end up in a staring contest. Well, if it’s your thing. Remember, they are only staring because they are curious. Sometimes, they may reciprocate by asking if you’d like to take a picture with them. And, Oh! Trust me. You don’t look like Naomi Campbell or Kendall Jenner.
3. A gift may be rejected many times before it is accepted.
Don’t be offended if this happens. It is customary in China to decline the first offer. Sometimes, the etiquette is to reject the gift two or three times, and eventually accept the giver’s offer.
4. Split Pants for Babies
Hang on tight and get ready to see a pair of baby butt cheeks staring back at you sometime somewhere in China. Split pants are often used in China as a replacement for diapers, allowing children to use the restroom when need be. It can’t get any more convenient than that!
5. Red is Lucky, not if you are writing a person’s name.
Generally, the color red stands for good luck in China. Nonetheless, never write your name or someone else’s name using red ink. During ancient times, doing so was reserved only for the dead’s gravestone. Nowadays, writing a name in red means the person will die soon, or you want them dead.