Things that you would not expect but they really happen in China BESTEP Survival Guide to China and its cultural differences
Some key facts about China: China is not only the fourth largest country in the World , but also one of the oldest continuous civilizations. With its 1,3 billion inhabitants, China is officially the most populated country in the world. With so many people living everywhere in the country, the following picture is an example of a situation at the train station where people wait for a local train that goes 12 times a day.
SHANGHAI (Chinese: 上海 ) is the largest city in China and one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. It has over 20 million inhabitants !
The TRAFFIC IN CHINA works vice-versa to the traffic in most Western countries. In Western countries, the pedestrians usually receive the highest protection and have the most rights. In China it’s quite the opposite. Most rights have the cars, the rule is – BIGGER AND MORE EXPENSIVE, MORE RIGHTS! These are followed by motorbikes and bicycles. Unfortunately the pedestrians have the least rights. So don’t wonder if the traffic light is green and the cars or bikes are still passing! WARNING: The cars WILL NOT WAIT for you to cross the street.
Most probably you will commute to your work place with a metro. The metro system in Shanghai is very developed, there are 9 lines and it keeps growing. Be aware- THE RUSH HOURS are 8.30am to 9.15am and 5.30pm to 6.30 pm . Try always get on the first carriage , it is usually less crowded and you’ll suffer less “injuries”. REMEMBER- People who get on the train usually do not wait for the people who want to get off.
Be ready for a HUGE LANGUAGE BARRIER . The official Chinese language is Mandarin and 1.2 billions out of 1.3 billion Chinese people understand only this- either spoken or written in characters. To learn spoken Mandarin is made a little easier through the use of pinyin , a system that uses the Roman alphabet to represent the sounds in standard Mandarin pronunciation. LEARN AT THE BEGINNING AT LEAST SURVIVAL CHINESE, what means DIRECTIONS AND NUMBERS. Like this you will be ready to talk to the taxi drivers and bargain in the shops.
The CHINESE CURRENCY is RMB (Renminbi), also called Yuan or Kuai. One Yuan is 10 Mao (sometimes called also Jiao). Getting cash is not really a problem in China. If you have a foreign bank account you can really conveniently deduct money with your bank card at the countless ATMs. The biggest bill is 100 Yuan (about 10 Euros). In many Chinese provinces the average salary in not more than 500 Yuan a month. That’s why majority of Chinese would never be able to touch bills with higher value. This would create big differences between People of People’s Republic of China and that’s why China decided to issue highest bills of 100 RMB value only. If you want Chinese people to treat you equally, DO NOT show off with too much money.
OUR ACCOMODATION is in shared apartments, usually in the downtown. There are usually 4-6 rooms in each apartment. The rent will be around 3000 Yuan per month , internet and a cleaning lady included. Bills are usually around 200 RMB/month. Sometimes the apartments have a living room, sometimes there is not any. Apartments usually have also a master bedroom with own bathroom. This costs usually 500-1000 Yuan per month more. Friends who come to visit can stay free of charge in the apartment up to 7 days; More days can be arranged upon agreement with our landlady; Every time friends are coming, she needs to be informed;
<ul><li>REMEMBER ABOUT YOUR ACCOMMODATION: </li></ul><ul><li>Upon your arrival, you will need to pay: </li></ul><ul><li>1 month rent + 1 month deposit (equal to a month rent and refunded at the end of the lease contract) + 35% of one month rent as a real estate fee. </li></ul><ul><li>Upon your arrival at the airport we will take you to the ATM or a bank counter. </li></ul><ul><li>Rent is paid monthly; Before your arrival we will let you know the starting day of your lease; </li></ul><ul><li>You have 24 hours support from our real estate landlady; she speaks fluent English and can resolve any of your problems; </li></ul><ul><li>Every apartment has an Ayi (cleaning lady). You can teach her how to tidy up your room. There is a certain cultural difference between Western and Chinese perception of a clean apartment, but there is always some space for improvement. </li></ul>
<ul><li>CHINESE COUISINE is very tasty but also very different from the Western one. The major differences are: </li></ul><ul><li>Bread is sweet; </li></ul><ul><li>If you eat with more people, you order several dishes that you share, not only one meal that is for you; </li></ul><ul><li>Intestines and different organs of animals are considered to be a big delicacy; </li></ul><ul><li>Besides Chinese believe that different food helps different diseases. So if you have a broken bone, you should eat chicken feet, if you have a problem with blood pressure, drink a soup from rabbit blood etc. </li></ul>
<ul><li>MEAL PRICES </li></ul><ul><li>Cheap Chinese meals from the street shop costs around 10 RMB (1 Euro) </li></ul><ul><li>Western and Chinese restaurants offer set lunch menus, price starts from 30-60 RMB (3-6 Euros). </li></ul><ul><li>Common Asian or Western Restaurant chains offer meals starting from 50 RMB (5 Euro) per person lunch. </li></ul><ul><li>In nicer high-end restaurants people spend on meals 300- 500 RMB (30-50 Euros)/ dinner. </li></ul><ul><li>If you go for dinner with local Chinese people, only one person pays for the whole meal. The first meal is usually covered by your Chinese friend. </li></ul>
<ul><li>There are CERTAIN RULES that you need to accept in a Chinese society . These rules are valid at work place and also in your personal life. The most important are: </li></ul><ul><li>GUANXI what means “help”. Once a Chinese person offers you some help, he will expect at some point of time the same from you. Guanxi rules in most of the businesses; </li></ul><ul><li>DON’T LET A CHINESE PERSON TO LOOSE HIS FACE. Never say directly that person is wrong or does not understand something. You minimize his value and he probably will not be your friend anymore. </li></ul><ul><li>ALWAYS SMILE, BE POLITE AND NEVER ACT TOO QUICKLY . Chinese like to think about things and even the worst problems have solutions if you smile and give people their “face”. </li></ul>
Shanghai is renowned for its vibrant large NIGHTLIFE . Upon your arrival we will give you some expat magazines with lists of places to go. In a meantime you can also check websites such as www.smartshanghai.com or www.cityweekend.com.cn If you have a HOUSE PARTY please don’t invite more than 20 people to your apartment AND DO NOT PARTY AFTER MIDNINGHT. Your neighbours will not like it and you can be accused by a police from CONSPIRATION AGAINST People’s Republic of China. T he penalty can be 5000 RMB (around 550 Euro) or 7 days in a local jail. Plus you might be deported from the country…
Before departing to China we advise that an intern has an international travel insurance. Most of the HOSPITALS in Shanghai have an international ward, so called VIP Section. Here the client is accompanied with an assistant during the visit. With most of the international insurance companies your the hospitals in Shanghai have a direct billing system. Doctor will most probably prescribe you both- Chinese and Western medicine. If you go to a normal hospital (not a VIP Section), be ready to have even 100 people waiting with you to see the same doctor, as well, don’t expect to be alone once inside the doc’s office.
<ul><li>Your first SHOPPING day in China! </li></ul><ul><li>Many Western girls might be excited by the countless opportunities to buy nice and cheap clothes. </li></ul><ul><li>In all Shanghai shopping markets and most local shops you are able to bargain . Try to go down to 40% of the offered price. </li></ul><ul><li>Disappointing are the sizes in China! </li></ul><ul><li>For girls it will be often difficult to find shoes of sizes larger than 39! </li></ul><ul><li>If your clothes are Medium (M), in China you will most probably move to the Extra large (XL) category. </li></ul>
So enjoy your stay in Shanghai! It will probably be one of the best times of your life!!!
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