Short story how visiting a doctor with a sore throat, ends with a headache. What you should do if you catch a cold and why there are five unfamiliar men coming with you to the doctor's office. Let’s make it clear. Between visiting the doctor in China and in the West there is a world of difference… cultural at least.
As a teacher you’ve got 1 month of holidays for Chinese New Year. What to do with this time? Staying at home is not an option. It just would be a painful loss of a wonderful opportunity. Traveling around China during spring festival can be very bothersome though (crowds everywhere, problems with obtaining tickets and booking hotel rooms). Not sure what to do, you stare dully at the map. Then comes sudden realization… Wow! Philippines are so close! Quick look at flight tickets prices and your holiday trip plan is ready. Now you can bid cold winter farewell and enjoy sun at paradise island. Hello El Nido!
Strolling down the streets somewhere in the Southeastern China, you encounter this intriguing plant every now and then. It’s standing in front of fruit shops or is sold by street vendors at parks and crossroads. As someone raised in Europe (in temperate climate) you’re unable to recognize the nature of this reed. Finally one day, during a walk, your friend asks if you want to eat something sweet…
Supermarket is a place which is supposed to provide us with a variety of everyday life products (from home appliances to snacks). That’s something common to all the countries. There is however a world of difference between the needs of everyday life in Western and Eastern cultures. It is something you may all of a sudden painfully realize when going to a supermarket. To save yourself a disappointment you should be prepared ahead of time. Check what you won't be able to buy in China…
Whenever you’re going abroad there’s always one dilemma that strikes you while packing your stuff. You want to take with you your laptop, camera, mobile phone. Each of them at some point inevitably will require charging. You know that for sure. You pack chargers for all them and then comes sudden realization “Will I really be able to plug them in?”…
By principle you dislike big cities. They are crowded, noisy and polluted. You live in a small town in southeastern China and you’re very happy because of that. Once in a while however, you feel the need to see something more – to see, so called ‘big world’. Whether it is out of curiosity, or simply to have an excuse that you haven’t spend your whole time in the middle of nowhere, you choose to visit one of the famous Chinese cities. You go to Suzhou and surprisingly to yourself, you wish to stay longer than you’ve planned…
Have you seen any Chinese costume/historical movie? If you go to Zhouzhuang it will make you feel as if you just found yourself in one. Don’t misunderstand – there are no cosplayers. There is something else – a town with a few hundred years of history. Walking down very narrow streets between wooden houses (some as old as 500 years) really makes you feel as if you’ve gone back in time…
How many of you have heard about Lishui? :o) Don’t worry. Most Chinese people have neither. No wonder. Whole city has a diameter around 7 km which means that you can walk from one end to the other in less than 2 hours. It really is a place where everything is close and it’s difficult to get lost. So why in the world you’ve decided to live and work in that kind of place?! Simple. Because of the mountains. Ridiculous? Maybe.
You’ve been in China for a few days already. You’ve mastered shopping in the supermarket (wasn’t that hard). It’s time to level up – night market. You’ve been warned that prices are not given and you might need to haggle for them. You’re aware that it’s going to be a challenge but you don’t fret over this. Equipped with your “Survival Chinese Dictionary” you’re ready to conquer mysterious world of street vendors with their even more mysterious food... Or at least that’s what you’ve thought.
You live in China. Very soon you’re forced to face one of the unavoidable challenges of everyday life. You have to go shopping. You don’t speak Chinese. What to do?! Well if it’s just supermarket you want to visit, there’s no problem. Prices are written so you can simply see how much something costs. Problem starts when you want to buy something at the market. The prices are not only not given, but you also have to haggle for them.
1 year ago: So here you are, beginnig your new life in China. Lot of new challenges waiting for you just behind the corner (with the lack of ability to speak Chinese at the beginning of the list). Nevertheless you’re not getting discouraged. You’re in China realizing your long lasting dream! Of course you’re aware of many problems that you will have to face as a foreigner, but you’ve prepared yourself well, before living your country. You’ll manage!
After being taken care of by the teachers from your school for last few days, you’re finally prepared to face on your own, what you think would be the first challenge – shopping. Before leaving your apartment you’re taking your “Survival Chinese dictionary” and then you’re heading for the supermarket across the street... At this point your story takes sudden turn. Why? Think carefully. Supermarket is ACROSS the street! If you were in any Western country you would say: “so what?!”. But this is not Western country. This is China. Here ACROSS the street might be a source of your worst nightmares causing your life to flash before your eyes few times a day.
Who am I?
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My name is Aga.
I come from Poland.
Currently (since October 2012) I’m working in China as an English teacher embracing my new life as a foreigner in the Far East. For more - look “About me” chapter.
Photos made available under a Creative Commons License.