As a joke for a friend, I filled one up with spare change that amounted to about ￥5。She was still pretty excited.
I’ve been in Beijing for a year now and here are some strange (personal judgement) things that I have seen or encountered:
- 20 something year old girls hold hands while walking together. Everywhere, the street, malls, bars, etc. At first I thought Beijing just had a bunch of lesbians, but it was later explained to me that ‘This is what Chinese girls do when they are friends’
- Babies don’t wear diapers and poop on the street
- A lot of girls are scared to go/stay out past 10:30. My buddy calls them 'Those solar-powered types’
- If you shop anywhere except a retail or department store, most prices of things are negotiable
- Right on red might as well be a green light because cars don’t stop for anything as they whip around the corner
- Some girls will be wearing a nice outfit, only to also wear those 'trucker’ style hats with some bedazzled design on them. To me, it’s like wearing a suit with flip flops.
- Everybody smokes everywhere
- Today I learned that in Chinese, America means 'Beautiful country’ and China means 'Middle country’.
- People constantly touch other people in the gym as a sign of admiration of their muscles
- Everyone says 'Buh-bye’
And with that, I’m off to Brazil in 3 days
This is some of the aftermath. The streets are covered in the remains of those tiny little things that go ‘boom’.
As people slowly start to catch their flights back home for the Chinese New Year, Beijing slowly begins to shut down. Restaurants board up their windows and stack the chairs while others merely put up a sign which I assume says, “Happy New Year”. The streets seem a bit less crowded and by Friday, I’m sure they will be empty. My gym closes in 2 days and for that first week of February, I’m not sure the word ‘bored’ will even come close to the way I will feel. Happy Chinese New Year!
I wear shorts to the gym and to work, and as of late, all Chinese dudes over age 30 look at me, smile, and give me a thumbs up when they see me. People are always asking me if I’m cold, to which I reply, “I’m not a little girl”. My Chinese isn’t great, but I can still convey sarcasm. The cultural behavior in China never ceases to amaze me.
Big eyes. This needs to be addressed. Wether it’s a 7 year old in my class, a 24 year old girl I go out with, or the attitude of the general public, they unanimously agree that big eyes are attractive. I have a couple speculations. Perhaps it’s because it’s something different from the norm. Foreigners stand out for many reasons, and having ‘big eyes’ seems to be a top factor. When I see billboards or advertisements in the subway, there are Chinese models with big eyes. Social media influences society and these models with 'big eyes’ are regarded as 'attractive’. As a foreigner, I don’t see the appeal, although on some level, I understand it. America is such a melting pot that seeing a person with unique physical features isn’t all that rare and I don’t tend to stare or see them as 'more attractive’.
Before I left Peru a lot of Peruvians said, “Oh you’re going to China, everyone looks the same”. Which was funny, because the same can be said for Peruvians. Brown skin, brown hair, and brown eyes. As a foreigner with white skin, brown hair, and 'big’ blue eyes, I suppose I’ll take the compliment of having 'big eyes’ and continue to live my life in Beijing amid a sea of stares.
Christmas is coming
Day before Halloween + cheers / awkward glances = let’s do this. I’m sure yelling ‘Moo Moo, where you at?’ Across the bar doesn’t help
Having traveled so much, I’m aware that social customs differ from country to country. However, there are some that still strike me as strange all the way to, “What the fuck?” In China, there are many that fall between this range.
- Old guys, outside of the gym, always touch my shoulders/arms and say “So strong!” in Chinese. I know I’m strong, I go to the gym, but I don’t need you to physically grope me when I’m out in public. I’ve gotta stop wearing tank tops
- A lot of Chinese girls wear shoes with at least a 2-3 inch platforms. Not high heels, just regular shoes, with a couple inches of extra foam. I asked a co-worker why and she said, “They make me look skinnier!” No, you still look fat, just a little bit taller
- Smoking at the gym, still irks me.
- A lot of people I talk to ask me about the season finale of TV shows, even though they are on season 1. They want to know the final result. My American buddy said that Americans love the suspense and unknown, whereas Chinese people are more focused on knowing the ending, and studying the results of how it came to be. For me, this defeats the purpose of watching the show in the first place
- Kids pooping in public. This has got to stop. It is super weird walking outside of a mall and there is a 4 year old dropping a deuce in the flowers outside the entrance
- A girl I work with told me to turn down the air conditioning or she would get sick. What??
- The starting fare for a taxi is 13 Yuan and takes a couple of minutes to start increasing. After (I think) 11pm, the starting fare is 14 Yuan and increases immediately upon moving
- It’s Fall and I’ve yet to see a girl in yoga pants. I miss American University
- I don’t understand why Chinese people don’t like African Americans or black people from any country. They constantly use ‘The N Word’, and I’ve heard some of the most racist things come out of Chinese peoples’ mouths about black people. I told a co-worker to shut his mouth before I shut it for him. I couldn’t handle the blatant racism and his denial that they were real people.
I also get a lot of flak from Chinese people when I tell them that I like to eat them with soy sauce. They eat them with vinegar, which for me is a terrible combination.
The last picture is of the steps leading up to the wall, which took about 15 minutes to climb.
It’s certainly been interesting to realize how different Chinese culture & customs are compared to those of America. I’m not speaking on behalf of China, but here are some things I’ve noticed since being in Beijing.
- People tell me that I shouldn’t chew my gum for more than 20 minutes or I’ll get cancer
- The girls I work with don’t understand why I don’t want to be friends with some of the other Americans. They have a difficult time understanding why I can be nice to them and acknowledge them as good teachers, but don’t like their personalities and choose not to spend time with them outside of work
- A girl I know drives an automatic and when she comes to a stop, she’ll put the car in neutral and pop the e-brake
- I’ve had multiple people tell me that Chinese women shouldn’t shower for a month after having a baby
- When I ask Chinese girls how to pronounce a swear word, they laugh, then cover their mouth and shake their head no. I still haven’t heard a Chinese girl swear
- Although bike lanes exist, they are the most hazardous areas on the road. Last night a women opened the taxi door, which protruded into the bike lane and I biked straight into it. Upon picking myself up and cursing at the woman, she just kept yelling and pointing at the taxi. Be accountable lady. Pedestrians also step into the bike line without regard, mini taxis (like those you see in Thailand) make passing impossible, and there are hundreds of scooters traveling at varying speeds to make Chinese bike lanes unnavigable and avoidable at all costs
- Elevator common sense does not exist. Before anyone can get out of an elevator, people are already trying to push their way in, creating unnecessary congestion. I often look at them, shake my head and say, “What are you doing?” This is a daily occurrence
- All the Chinese girls I know love Asian cartoons. Although the cartoons vary from person to person, their fan-hood is unwavering. Phones backgrounds, computer desktops, t-shirts, coffee mugs, stickers, you name it, all covered by scenes or characters from the show
- The hipster culture is alive and well in Beijing. I’ve never seen so many people wear sunglasses with no frames
- I don’t even know how to describe this. At night, in a plaza type looking area, there will be upwards of 50 old Chinese people moving in a circle, dancing to old Chinese music (it looks more like old people shuffling in a circle and occasionally moving their arms). People tell me they do it for exercise. It’s one of the weirdest things I’ve seen.
Jaywalking is not a problem due to the giant white fences in the middle of the street and along the sidewalk.
So to prepare, my school sent me and my assistant teacher to the Beijing zoo for a day to ‘get ready’ for our class. A lot of people say it’s a shitty zoo, but I enjoyed it. We saw a dolphin/seal show at the aquarium, and tried to explain to my assistant that in America, people eat deer & sturgeon, and that I ate Alpaca in Peru. She was confused, this coming from a girl who admitted to eating dog. Also learned that it’s illegal to hunt in China, but fishing is ok. Overall, the Beijing zoo is legit.