Blending In: How Do I Look Normal in China
If you’re planning to travel to China and to stay there for any length of time, then being prepared for what life is like, will be the key to your enjoyment and staying power. Blending in and appearing normal is necessary if you want to live a comfortable life there. First, recognise that living in any new culture will bring about differences and new experiences that you must embrace, no matter how unattractive they may first appear. By embracing these differences, you will have a better understanding of the culture, and a better appreciation of how it will enrich your life.
Observe The Similarities
When travelling to any of the large cities, you’ll find activities and amenities there, comparable to any of the fastest growing cities in the region. For instance, the public transport system is not perfect but is in many ways better than what you may experience in other parts of the world.
For someone who is looking for adventure, travelling around the city to be fun and not all that challenging. With so many similarities regarding the look of these modern cities, you might feel that there is very little adventure to be had, but as you explore them more carefully, you will begin to see the differences.
If fitting in is what you wish for, then understanding the Chinese way of life is crucial. To begin with, a list of differences might seem appropriate, but it will be incredibly overwhelming, especially when you consider the fact that a few guiding principles will go much farther in helping you adjust to life in China.
So, take a look at these principles; they may sound more like Chinese proverbs. However, they can be very useful.
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Guiding Principles When Blending In With Your Chinese Life
1. Seek to understand, not be understood.
2. The success of the group is far more important than the success of any one individual.
3. Showing anger or frustration will only cause others to behave in the same way towards you. Seek other solutions for getting what you want.
4. Remember that personal relationships are far more important than clear communication or systems. Thus, it is possible for unruly systems to function as long as they have some feedback system in place.
5. Success must be achieved for the survival of the family system. Many are depending on you and others.
6. Never point out other’s weaknesses. Blaming circumstances are far more acceptable.
7. The less said regarding emotions, the better. Intuitive understanding of the what others want is critical, and often this can be achieved through observation.
Preservation Is Crucial When Blending In
Even with these principles taped to your mirror and read each morning, there are some actions that you can take to make the transition easier for yourself. Understand that you will not be able to assimilate 100% into any new culture and taking the time to enjoy the aspects of the culture that you like will be crucial. The more you experience the culture and the language, the easier it will be if you plan to stay more than three months. Without the language, you will be at a loss in understanding the culture, so be careful not to shoot yourself in the foot by assuming that language acquisition is not THAT crucial. Enjoy your time and the changes that you will experience both externally and internally.
Cultural Barriers: Friendships In China
When you consider what it’s like to live in China, you cannot deny the power of relationships and how that will influence the kind of life you live and how easy blending in will be for you. The stronger your friendships, the more enjoyable your stay will be. If you find making friends easy, you may still want to consider some of the added complexities with the introduction of a new culture.
So, ask yourself, “How can I make friends in China?” Looking at several important principles will hopefully help you avoid some of the major faux pas. Some of these principles are all about using your commonsense knowledge, while others will involve something altogether different from what you know or have ever experienced. Keeping these guidelines in mind will help you build relationships more effectively.
Blending In with Your Chinese Life
Friendliness is an essential universal principle for getting on with others. That begins with politeness and a warm smile, which can go a long way. Then, as the conversation continues, focus on the other person and how you can ask questions that will help them share their life story. Lastly, decide on how much time and effort you are willing to devote to the relationship and take action: ask to meet again.
How To Become A Good Listener In China
In Chinese culture, certain elements remain hidden from the average observer. You will notice this as you continue to make friends and build relationships. Often, important concepts and motivations are not communicated directly. If the other person thinks something is important, you will probably NOT hear about it.
So, how do you decipher what is important to the other person? First, notice what they spend much of their time and energy on. Even without saying it, they are indicating that certain activities are important to them. Secondly, notice what they spend their money on and worry about. The situations they worry about are often about the most valuable things to them.
Regarding direct questions, you’ll find that these are either deflected or receive a deceptive answer in an attempt to avoid anything that resembles conflict. Because peace is so highly valued in Chinese culture, answers are often the mask for keeping the peace. Whether this is an attempt to preserve the peace, or to keep a good relationship, you’ll find that it is still a mask. Hiding your thoughts and desires for the good of others is considered a treasured trait in Chinese culture.
Finally, since words are often obscure in general terms, you will need to determine the underlying meaning. Although this feels like you must constantly read between the lines, it will be good for developing your skills of perception. In Chinese culture, the listener has the responsibility to understand the communication, rather than the speaker communicating with clarity. Follow these tips and for sure blending in will be easy.
How to Identify Underlying Motivations when Blending In
The reason why someone is speaking or behaving in a certain way will often be at a loss to you at first. Although you will learn this over time, it is important to note that hidden motivations do not necessarily mean hidden agendas. At the same time, Chinese “friends” who approach you may have a reason for doing so. The sooner you can discern why the easier it will be to build trust and continue with the relationship. May these principles help you in blending in and making friends in China!