There is more culture and history within China’s expansive borders than most nations could ever dream of. For more than two thousand years, the Chinese people have developed a fascinating perspective on the world around us; this unique vision has helped the Chinese become some of the most innovative artists in world history. Of course, the Chinese society is also remarkably different from anything we’ve seen in the West. If you’re planning on heading to China for a vacation (and you totally should), you should be aware that you’re in for a bit of a culture shock.
1. When Eating, Take Everything You’re Offered
Especially if you’re eating in someone’s home. If you’re served something you don’t want, take it anyway and just leave it uneaten on the plate. The gesture is all that matters.
2. Carry Some Cash
Unlike America, Chinese consumers tend to drop cash on the table as opposed to paying with credit.
3. You Might Feel a Little Extra Pressure in a Restaurant
When eating out, the custom in China is to provide the table with one menu. At that point, one person typically orders for everyone at the table. In China, waiters will also expect a table to order their food as soon as they get their menu as opposed to dropping the menu off and giving customers a few moments to peruse things.
4. The People Will Be Accommodating, But Not For the Reason You Think
In China, saving face is a very big deal. In an effort to keep their dignity, most Chinese people will be as polite as possible regardless of the situation.
5. There Is No Casual Friday
In China, as in several other Asian countries, propriety is considered extremely important. As a result, business attire is universally worn in any business setting as a sign of respect for both superiors and the task at hand.
6. A New Way to Drink Tea
In China, they tend towards tea. What’s more, their tea comes in the form of loose leaves as opposed to separate bags.
7. In the West, We Value Positivity, in the East, They Value Openness
In China, it’s no big deal for someone to look at you and say — without prompting or malice — that you’ve gained some weight and you should consider chilling out on the junk food. It’s not considered an insult, because honesty is more important in China than cultivating a delusion.
8. Steer Clear of the Number 4
It’s the Chinese equivalent of “13”.
9. Chill Out About How Cool You Are
In China, people tend to stay humble about their success. This isn’t because Chinese people aren’t pleased with their accomplishments, it’s done in order to spare other people the shame of not being as awesome.
10. There’s a Very Rigid Social Structure
Where America places a lot of importance on “the underdog,” China’s social structure was specifically designed for its employees to largely stick with their assigned social level.
11. The Air Quality Is Extremely Poor
In fact, the World Health Organization has labelled China the world’s worst offender when it comes to outdoor air pollution.
12. A Lot of Credence Is Lent to Respecting the Dead
Once a year, every member of a Chinese family gathers over their ancestors’ graves to pay tribute to those who came before.
13. When Conducting Business, Always Hand Over Your Business Card With Both Hands
Since your business card contains both your name and your rank — both of which are critical in professional Chinese society — it’s extremely important that you show the proper respect for both yourself and the person to whom you’re giving your card. Using both hands draws attention to the information you’re providing and conveys a sense of levity in transferring said info.
14. Be Very, Very Punctual
Chinese culture is very focused on adhering to the schedule. If you’re doing business with a Chinese company and the meeting starts at 2:00, then you should make darn well sure your butt is planted in your seat at 2:00.
15. Chinese People Don’t Care About Your Privacy
Which is to say that traditionally in China, taboo subjects like politics, religion, and financial status are certainly within the realm of proper conversation.
16. In China, the Elderly Are Idolized, Not the Young
In America, we have a tendency to devalue people the more wrinkles they have; in China, wrinkles translate to wisdom. As such, young people are often encouraged to respect those that came before them.
17. Don’t Walk on the Grass
In China, most public parks feature signs that read “No Walking on the Grass” or something to that effect.
18. Education Is of the Utmost Importance
In America, we place a lot of emphasis on a person’s character. In China, while character is factored in, there’s also a lot of importance put on fundamentals like education. The first several years of a Chinese child’s life is spent preparing for adulthood with education and the regular absence of romantic relationships.
19. Other People’s Opinion Really Matters
In the West, we value independence; in China, there’s a lot of focus paid to the good of the group as opposed to the good of the individual.
20. Be Patient and Keep Cool
In China, people who lose their cool at the slightest provocation are not only considered oddballs, but an overreaction could also bring shame on your host.