Culture Shock in China

June 17, 2018 | Teach English in China

Is it a thing? The short answer is “YES IT IS!” However, in my experience, it wasn’t in the way I thought I’d experience culture shock. Let me explain why.

Culture Shock because of Other Foreigners

ESL TeachersPicture this. You are at your office. There is a bunch of Chinese folk on the one side, and then there are the foreign teachers on the other. Teachers come from all over the world. My fellow colleagues come from Canada, various different states in America, Ireland, England, Australia and New Zealand. On nights out, I’ve even met foreigners from Brazil, Norway, Iceland, Russia, Serbia, Malaysia, Tanzania, Ghana and so forth and so forth. You spend a lot of time at the office lesson planning so obviously you will be chatting with fellow teachers, getting to know more about one another. They are also the first people you go to when arranging plans for a night out or a weekend trip outside the city. As you get to know them, you realize just how vastly different you all are in terms of your little habits and quirks. People from different states in America have a different way of going about things! We don’t always understand the why’s, how’s and what’s of each other’s different cultures and backgrounds, but somehow, a bit of magic happens. What do I mean by this? The magic is that regardless of your differences with others in terms of these fundamental aspects such as culture, lifestyle and background, your relationship with other foreigners is a very harmonious one most of the time! Learning about one another person’s “Point of View” won’t ever take anything away from you and who you are as a person, but will only add so much more to what you’ve already got and know about the world!

Culture Shock because of… Well, China

Teacher Nadia in China

Surprise! China is weird, man. However, I’d like to rise to the defense of its weird inhabitants. I have been treated with nothing but kindness here, and it is something I’m truly grateful for.  They are still in many ways so much more different from what I expected them to be. It’s quite the task to try and explain this in words, but as a colleague of mine said today “Sometimes you’ve just got to let go and let China.” In certain areas, China is way more advanced than I would have thought them to be, but in other, they are extremely traditional. The great thing is that when you are open to experiencing the traditional China, it’ll amaze you! Chinese folks are quite set in their ways, and as a foreigner it’s practically impossible to try and have them understand your point of view.  Homosexuality is a sensitive topic and when discussed, the idea of a same sex couple loving one another is so strange and incomprehensible to them. Cue the daft expressions and furrowed brows trying to understand this wild concept.  You’re a vegetarian? Wait…really? You really don’t want any meat or animal product in this dish? But…how? Any Chinese Person in China Ever. Being a vegan in China has its ups and downs. I don’t pay as much at a restaurant for buffets as my meat-eating diners do which is pretty cool. However, when going to order food at the food court in a shopping mall, jaws drop and brains fog up when I order a dish with no meat. 85% of my dishes were meat-filled and my specific instructions completely disregarded, because according to the Chinese folks, not eating meat is as good as trying to kill yourself. So I suppose that this is my main point – have patience and understanding for the Chinese mindset.  Once you understand that you cannot always change their customs and opinions, you’ll have a much easier life here. Then again, they’ll make up for this in many different ways (freebies with purchases being one of them!)


Well, that is what you should be to a degree, of course. Once you get the hang of things and you know what the term patience means, you’ll have an absolute ball here! China has shocked me into total delight. I cannot wait to explore more of what this country has to offer!

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