Challenges in China

Studying abroad is life-changing, but as one of my professors says we all have “BCD’s” or “Bad China Days”. Basically, these are days where we just really miss home, become extremely aware of things that annoy us here, or get frustrated and irritated with some aspects of the culture.

One of the big adjustments I’ve had to make here is that everything moves really slowly. Unlike the U.S, where you can send an email and get a response in minutes, things in China can take days or even weeks to get resolved. This can be particularly annoying to someone not used to it, but eventually you’ll realize it’s just the way things work. Sending a WeChat to someone is a way to combat this, as people are always on WeChat, it’s definitely a more efficient way to communicate.

The second thing that I just can’t bring myself to get used to is listening to the sound of people hacking up their phlegm and spitting it out on the side of the road. Every time I hear this I cringe, and it’s something you will hear regardless of where you are, you can’t escape it.

The third adjustment I’ve had to make are the pictures. People love taking pictures with foreigners – especially if you’re not of Asian descent. At first, it’s really fun taking pictures with people because it’s like being a celebrity, but after a while it gets a bit tiring. Especially when I’m on the metro and it’s extremely hot so we’re all sweating, and I see someone lift up their phone to snap a pic of me sweating. Definitely not a fan of that.

The fourth thing to get used to is people being pushy in order to sell you something. Whenever we go to the clothing markets, you are basically attacked as soon as you step off the metro. People immediately start to ask you what you want to buy and will go as far as grabbing you and taking you to their shop in order to see what they have to offer.

The fifth thing I’ve noticed here are that there literally no rules on the road. The light can be green to walk and there will still be a plethora of cars, motorcycles, scooters, and bikes whizzing around you. It’s kind of chaotic, but it actually seems to work.

The sixth thing we’ve encountered are picky taxi drivers! Some taxi drivers are really difficult when it comes to giving foreigners a ride. Lots of them don’t like to pick up people who don’t speak the language, but sometimes even when they say they’ll pick you up they’ll jack up the price because we’re inconveniencing them. Just the other day, we were going from one place to another and I showed the driver the directions and he said 180 RMB (30-ish USD) but I thought that was too high so we passed on it. In reality, the actual taxi we ended up getting was only 47 RMB (8-ish USD), so be aware

Lastly, we have the smog. We all know it exists, and yet it’s still annoying. Of course, you can wear a mask, but sometimes we don’t want to restrict our breathing even more by covering our mouths with something. Some days we forget about it, and some days we’re extremely aware about it, but all in all it hasn’t impacted our quality of life too much.

Although I listed things that irritated me in China or brought me general annoyance, I still love this place way too much to let these little things take away from my experience. There’s so much to do here, and so much to see, so there’s no point in letting the small things bother you. At first you’ll probably be hypersensitive of everything, but after a while most of these things seems to go away. I trust that anyone who comes to China will have an amazing time and can also form their own opinions on some of the stuff I’ve listed. Bye for now!