Taken from my writing blog: From A to C.
Leaving your native country for 4 years is a daunting task. Trying to understand the culture is even more difficult, especially when your only perception of the United States is sex, blonde hair, fast food, loud music, and lots and lots of violence over black people (PRC media at its best). While I’m not here to hold your hand and tell you with a smile that everything will be all right and that everything you know about America is wrong (all of the above I mentioned are true to some extent), I’m here to provide some tips that’ll help you adapt more easily in the States so you don’t fall victim to the shameful category of “ignorant Chinese tourist.”
- Americans do not use umbrellas on sunny days. In China, it is common to see many young and old people alike with an umbrella on a clear day. That’s because Chinese people worship pale skin and will do anything to achieve and preserve that paleness. Well tough luck Chinese kids, in America we embrace the sun (especially in California). The only time we use an umbrella is when it rains.
- Clean up after yourself, especially in fast food restaurants. In China, employees at places like KFC and McDonald’s will clean up after you. Does not work the same way in America. On another note, I should add that McDonald’s does not deliver. Even if they did, you’d have to pay them extra for delivery whereas in China it’s free.
- This is for you ladies! Shave, shave, shave. Shaving isn’t really a thing in China (I mean, you guys even had a Weibo competition for hairiest female armpit!), but Americans like to bare it all. You don’t necessarily have to shave your hoo-hah or legs (bless Asians for not being so hairy), but it doesn’t hurt to take care of your armpits at least.
- Ladies again, holding hands with your best friend is completely normal in China. Not so much in the States, unless you guys are dating. Hell, one time I linked arms with my female friend and some creep called us a “cute couple.” You have no idea how many “nope’s” passed through my mind when I heard that.
- All American restrooms are equipped with toilet paper, toilet seat covers, and hand soap. Oh, and they’re all sitting! No need to deal with the squat toilet. Public restrooms in China, on the other hand, are complete nightmares. No toilet paper, no hand soap, nada! Praise America for being a country that values hygiene. This is good for the Chinese; you don’t have to worry about bringing in your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer in America.
- Marijuana is a thing and most people smoke it recreationally on a daily basis. Heck, you might even be offered a smoke or two. Don’t be too shocked about this, and don’t think poorly about your friends who do smoke often. It’s become so common in America, especially in the college scene, that it’s rare to meet an American who hasn’t smoked yet.
- Tips. Tips. Tips. What you see on your receipt is not what you give exactly. Always add 10%-15% for lunch and 15%-18% for dinner to your total. This is not a thing in China; what you pay is what you see. Tipping is a pain in the ass (even I hate it), but hey, it’s the norm, and even waiters and waitresses need the extra income to survive.
- Americans love love love cold beverages. Ask for water and chances are it’ll be iced. Chinese are not used to this because they like warm drinks. All water and tea that is served in Chinese restaurants are typically warm. Chinese, prepare your stomach for the ice when you go out and eat.
So there you have it friends! If you can think of anymore culture shocks that Chinese experience coming to live in the US, feel free to leave a comment below!