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Tipping, Morning Showers, and Other Things Chinese People Can’t Understand About Americans

Posted: 01/27/2015 9:00 am

us differences drinking waterComparing cultural norms is common practice among foreigners in China, but the scrutiny is usually on Chinese culture and how Chinese people do things. Turning the tables comes with a list of things that Chinese people will never be able to understand about people who live in the United States. Some of these things will be immediately apparent if you’ve ever spent time in China, and some will leave you scratching your head.

It’s called the Top 10 strange American habits incomprehensible to Chinese, and is taken verbatim from (thus the sometimes awkward phrasing):

10. Pet Culture
Americans are famous worldwide for loving their pets more than they love people. Some have explained that this is because there are more dogs than people in the United States. Although this is an exaggeration, the saying is not completely nonsense. The costs of raising pets like dogs — including providing for their daily well-being and even medical care — may be high, but Americans are just willing to spend that money.

9. Taking showers in the morning
Americans differ from Chinese people in that many Americans take showers in the morning. Some Americans explain that showering in the evening is unnecessary if one works in an air-conditioned place. Those who have outdoor jobs also need to take evening showers.

8. Wearing pants lower than underwear
There is an actual saying used to describe this “baggy pants” style. It started in some African-American communities before a variety of other social groups adopted the trend. It is already part of American street culture throughout the country, and even celebrities like Justin Bieber can be seen sporting such pants.

7. Tipping, even when you are already paying for a service
Tipping is a normal phenomenon in the United States. One gives tips when eating in a restaurant, taking a taxi or having a bellboy carry your luggage to your room. Tipping is usually 15 percent of the amount you spend on your entire bill, but it differs according to the quality of the restaurant or cab ride. Refusing to tip is impolite and will make you an unwelcome guest.

6. Tap water safe, but not the warm water
In the United States., tap water is nominally safe to drinking straight from the faucet. Although some people may not like to drink tap water because of its slightly strange flavor, it is indeed safe for drinking. However, one has to remember that hot tap water from the faucet may not always be safe for drinking, because it comes from a different water source and the quality of hot water is often far lower than that of cold water.

5.  Wearing light clothing in winter
Americans tend to dress more casually than Chinese people. Many young people wear short-sleeve T-shirts in the winter, although they might put on an overcoat and long jeans when it becomes extremely cold. This is primarily because there is central heating everywhere — inside buildings and in subway and bus stations. Hence, it is normal to see corporate women dressed in professional shirts and skirts under a thin overcoat in New York streets in early winter.

4. Wearing UGG boots in summer
Many Chinese viewers of “The Big Bang Theory” (which is popular in China) must have noticed that Penny, one of the TV show’s main characters, often wears T-shirts and shorts with a pair of snow boots. In fact, many Americans wear these fluffy boots in summer.

us differences3. Hitting the hay with shoes on
Americans tend to think of bed sheets and sofas as expendable domestic items meant to be replaced sooner or later. Therefore, a lot of Americans see no reason to inconvenience themselves just for the sake of keeping things clean. Moreover, the United States is a relatively clean country, where there is less dust and dirt on the roads and in public places, meaning that shoe soles tend not to get very dirty.

2. Eating hamburgers while drinking diet beverages
For Americans, eating a hamburger while drinking a soda is as normal as the combination of soy milk and fried dough twists in China. Although tasty and convenient, the combination has a high calorie count. Amid growing obesity problems, many Americans have developed a habit of drinking reduced-sugar beverages referred to as “diet sodas,” which contain 99 percent less of the calories in regular sodas. Hamburgers and french fries already contain a huge amount of calories, so what is the point of only drinking diet soda?

1. Drinking cold water throughout the year
Americans tend to drink only icy cold water all year round. On their water coolers, there are only two options: hot water, which is merely used to make instant coffee or tea, and cold water, which is for direct consumption. Americans do not really understand why people might drink warm water. Likewise, there are no exceptional circumstances where people are advised not to drink cold water. For instance, whereas most Chinese people think that women who are menstruating or who have recently given birth should drink only hot water to stay healthy, American women have no qualms about drinking ice water or eating ice cream at those times.



Chinese People Share Embarrassing Stories of Foreigners Who Understand Chinese

Posted: 07/9/2014 3:35 pm

laowai chinese anecdotes fluent languageExpats may enjoy each day in China as an “adventure” waiting to happen, but have you considered that Chinese have stories of their own about their “adventures” with foreigners?

Guangzhou Daily shares with us a number of personal stories in which Chinese people encounter an expat who, to their often embarrassing surprise, understands Putonghua. While the number of foreigners that have adapted to living in China has increased, it seems the number of Chinese that continue to underestimate them remains extremely high.

We can’t vouch for the authenticity of any of the stories below, especially when a supposed personal anecdote is told in the third person, but all of them sound truthful enough. They are short, life-like, and share the same theme.

They are also accompanied with pictures of movie stars, which we’ll reproduce here:

laowai chinese anecdotes fluent languageOne day I was at the supermarket buying something when I saw a black person. I turned to my friend next to me and said, “Hey look, that black laowai is really black.” The black person then looked back at me and said, “[I'm not black, it's just that] you’re so white.”

laowai chinese anecdotes fluent languageDuring university, my classmates and I had all gone out to arrange our class schedule when a brother from Africa who was very black appeared in front of us. One of my classmates said, “So fucking black!” We didn’t think that the laowai would turn his head around and say “So fucking yellow!” We just about fell over at that point~!

laowai chinese anecdotes fluent languageTwo women and a foreign man were taking an elevator together. One of the women noticed the chest hair of the laowai was very long, and said to the other woman, “Look, the laowai’s chest hair is very sexy.” Who would have thought that the laowai would suddenly answer: “Thank you!”.

laowai chinese anecdotes fluent languageMe and my girlfriend went to a roller skating rink. My girlfriend repeatedly fell down so I said, “Piggy, do you see that beautiful foreign girl over there? She is much taller than you, but she skates so much better.” That foreign woman skated over and said, “Thank you for your compliment, handsome.” Faint! I hurriedly used my English to answer back, “Not at all.”

laowai chinese anecdotes fluent languageOnce, my dad went to the Great Wall. As he climbed the wall, he saw a tall, white person sitting on a step. My dad told the people all around him, “Look, this laowai doesn’t have the strength to climb the Wall.” Then the white person replied, “I’m taking a short break, is that okay?”

laowai chinese anecdotes fluent languageThere was this time I was eating sand pot noodles at a neighborhood outdoor stall. I was dripping with so much sweat that it was like I was drunk or crazy. It so happened the dormitories for Southern University were next door. Then, a young woman of Chinese nationality walked out holding the hand of a black child of about five years old. This small black child kept looking at my drooling face as they kept walking, and then suddenly said in a perfect Nanjing dialect, “I want to eat sand pot noodles!” I just about spit out my noodles.

laowai chinese anecdotes fluent languageI was once taking the Guangzhou Metro when I saw a family of foreigners. The mother was leading the daugher who was very pretty, just like a doll. Then, an old gentlemen beside her used standard English to ask, “Where are you from?” The little girl impatiently replied with a nonchalant answer in Chinese: the USA.

laowai chinese anecdotes fluent languageI wanted to bring my classmate on a trip to Beijing one weekend but she was too lazy to come along, so I had to go alone. On the train there, I sat next to a very good-looking foreign man. So I called up my classmate to vent at her. I told her, “You’re going to regret this for the rest of your life! I’m telling you, there’s a foreign man sitting next to me with a side profile that looks like Brad Pitt. All the more eye candy for me!” After I put the phone down, I noticed that the man was noticably happy at me; his heart was brimming with joy as his face radiated with happiness. The foreign man then told me (in Chinese), “Miss, your side profile is also very beautiful!” …Opposite us were a couple that almost fell over from laughing. It was all I could do to refrain from jumping off the train.

laowai chinese anecdotes fluent languageI’m from Jinan. Once, my father and his colleagues went on a business trip to the USA where they went shopping at a supermarket. As they discussed among themselves in the Jinan dialect, they were approached by an American who used a proper Jinan dialect to say to them, “You are from Jinan!” The colleagues all exploded in sweat. After speaking a while, it turns out that this laowai had stay behind with the rear US guard after the war. The colleagues asked him, “So, how is your English?” The laowai slapped his leg and said, “English is so fucking hard to learn!!”


Photos: Guangzhou Daily


Weekend Gallery: Humungous Marilyn Monroe Statue Taken to The Dump

Posted: 06/21/2014 11:28 am

marilyn monroe statue giant guigang guangxi

The Seven Meter Itch: on June 18, an enormous statue of Marilyn Monroe was dismantled in Guigang, Guangxi Province and taken to a garbage dump after only having been on public display for six months, reports Caijing.

The original intention of the statue was to attract international business as well as to serve as a local landmark. The statue became a romantic destination for dating and married couples wanting to take pictures with a gigantic Marilyn Monroe.

A professor from South China Normal University had led a group that created the statue, referencing a still from the movie Seven Year Itch as well the statue Forever Marilyn, a similar statue of Marilyn Monroe that once stood in Chicago. The statue took two years to build and was erected in Guiyang’s “Chinatown”.

Made of stainless steel, the statue weighs eight tons and is actually 8.18 meters high, taller than Forever Marilyn.

Over in the USA, Forever Marilyn has been intensely criticized for being provocative and for being “laden with political meaning”. Now moved to Palm Springs, California, Forever Marilyn has been vandalized and named the “worst piece of public art in the world” by

There was no reason provided in the report as for the sudden dismantling of the statue in Guigang, but then, beautiful women don’t often know the reason why they are being dumped.

marilyn monroe statue giant guigang guangximarilyn monroe statue giant guigang guangximarilyn monroe statue giant guigang guangximarilyn monroe statue giant guigang guangximarilyn monroe statue giant guigang guangximarilyn monroe statue giant guigang guangxi


Photos: Caijing

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