A Pictorial Guide to Life in China

First off, I’d like to mention that China messes with your body. Especially when you first get here. Systems most notably affected include the digestive system and respiratory system. We’re talking serious diarrhea here, and dirty air. Get that? Bring immodium.

There are some seriously rank odors out there on the street. Rotting organic matter, urine, feces, stinky tofu…. But don’t worry, soon you’ll be gleefully playing “name that odor” with your Chinese friends!

About that food thing again… You’ll have some difficulty. This isn’t “Panda Express,” folks. Inconveniences include little rocks in your rice, tons of tiny, tiny little bones in the fish, pieces of chopped up bone inside meat. Then there’s also the food that’s just plain not good (like chicken feet, maybe?), or hazardous to your intestinal tract. But be adventurous anyway! You’ll learn soon enough what not to eat. (Diarrhea is a harsh but effective teacher!)

Sometimes the pollution is pretty bad. It might even make your eyes water some days, especially if you come from some wussy place with really clean air. Dust is everywhere. Chinese people don’t sit on the floor or ground or non-designated sitting places because everything is dirty. You’ll get dirty.

So you might find yourself washing a lot (at first). That’s OK, though. Soon you’ll learn — filth is fun. It gives you “China stories” to call home about!

So environmental protection has not exactly “caught on” yet in China. You might find this disturbing at first, and think about it a lot. Don’t worry, soon you’ll be wallowing in toxic apathy with the rest of us!

If you’re coming to China, I hope you’re not too tall. That can be inconvenient sometimes.

It also helps if you’re pretty healthy. Sure, they have “modern” medical facilities here, but the standards may not quite be up to what you have come to expect in the West. Solution? Don’t get sick, and don’t get hurt!

Don’t get too attached to elevators. In schools and apartment buildings with 7 stories or less, there are no elevators. According to Chinese building codes, elevators are only required in buildings taller than 7 stories. Hey, it’s cool. Elevators are for capitalist wusses!

You might be impressed by the amount of computers in use in China. Internet cafes are everywhere. You won’t be impressed for too long, though, because building code standards are so low that buildings everywhere are already falling apart scant years after they’re completed.

One weird thing about China is that even though Mandarin is the official language of the entire country, there are tons of dialects which are incomprehensible to the uninitiated. Especially in the south, every town has a separate dialect!

The good news is that stuff in China is really cheap! Sure, the quality might not be quite up to the standards you’re used to, but you’ll get over that. When stuff is this cheap, you can just keep rebuying it every time it falls apart! Neat!

There’s lots more surprises waiting for you in China, so come on over! Before long you’ll be familiar with the slew of inconveniences inherent to life here. Then you won’t be annoyed — rather, you’ll accept them with a smile and a “that’s China!”

Visit the Sinosplice weblog for more on life in China

Sinosplice and all material found herein are copyright 2003-2010, John Pasden unless otherwise noted.

This page is meant as satire. The author really does have a love for China. Images (except for the last one) taken from the ready.gov terrorism preparation homepage. Page inspired by the crewcial.org message board, which also swiped images from the ready.gov page.

Come to China!