Advice for China Hopefuls
08 Mar 2004
By “China Hopeful” I mean someone who is considering coming to China to study or teach (or whatever).
The advice I have to give isn’t as cliche as “bring deodorant” — I hope you all know that you should bring a year’s supply of deodorant if you’re planning to come live in China. It’s also not the “bring clothes if you’re tall or big” thing, because you’ll have a hard time finding clothes in your size here. It’s not even “study Chinese,” because nothing impresses upon you the importance of the issue as actually being here, immersed in the language. It’s something even harder to remedy once you’re here.
So this is my advice to you China hopefuls:
Before you come here, go to a good barber shop or salon in your home country. Go to some place that you know will do a good job. Some place that’s brightly lit. Get your haircut. Now here’s the key. After your haircut, take pictures of your freshly cut hair. From the front, from the side, from the back, the 3/4 angle, etc. Then, before you leave, get those pictures printed. Put them together on a special laminated “haircut card.” Trust me, you will use it.
I’ve been in China for close to four years, and my Chinese is pretty respectable. But how can I be expected to explain accurately in Chinese the kind of hairstyle I want when it’s not even the easiest thing in the world for me to do in English? It’s not just a translation issue. In any case, pictures help a lot.
To this day, I’ve never taken the advice above. That exlains why I keep getting bad haircuts. At least they’re cheap here.