Today, I’m pleased to share a guest post with you, written by Yang Yang from Learn Mandarin Now. I’m sure if you have been to China, you can relate to these, and add some of your own. Enjoy!

5 surprises Learn Mandarin Now

5 Surprises You’ll Encounter When You Travel to China

It’s always hard to know just what to expect when travelling to a new country. For many first time travelers to China, the surprises are so numerous that the culture shock can be significant.

If you’re planning to take a trip to China and learn Mandarin Chinese, you might appreciate being informed about five surprising things you’re likely to encounter.

  1. Chinese food – To say that Chinese people like to eat would be an understatement. Chinese people seem to be always eating, and will eat even parts of animals you wouldn’t have thought of as edible, not to mention exotic creatures. In some parts of the country, even dog meat is considered to be a delicacy.

  2. Diversity – With a population rapidly nearly one and a half billion and a land mass of over 3.7 million square miles, China is huge. Though it is one country, you almost wouldn’t know it by the diversity of language, customs, and cultures. The longer you travel in China, the more you’ll even find that some people in the south don’t understand the language of people in the north or east. You can check out our research how to learn Chinese to see a great list of resources that will give you a much better insight into language issues.

  3. Toilets – Or rather, the lack of toilets. In many places, you’ll find yourself doing your business in a hole in the floor. It’ll take some practice, and strong legs, to get the job done. While we’re on the subject, not all restrooms have doors on the stalls. Also be sure to carry toilet tissue with you as you explore as tissue and soap are not always available.  

  4. Attention – In large metropolitan areas the people are accustomed to foreigners. If you travel to more rural areas, however, you may find yourself the object of fascination. Chinese people are not shy in their curiosity, but you can always break the ice with a smile and a wave.

  5. Pollution and the weather – Many large cities, especially in the north, are “famous” for their pollution, and the situation is only getting worse. Now many people in Beijing and other large cities wear masks whenever they venture outdoors. In the South, you should also be prepared for any type of weather, as temperatures can vary widely and indoor heat is unreliable.

If you’ve been to China before, you can probably add at least another dozen surprises you encountered, but hopefully these five surprises will help prepare you.  Travelling to China to learn how to speak Chinese is an effective way to help you improve your grasp on the language.  You may experience a bit of culture shock the first couple of days or months you are there, but not to worry, it won’t take you long to get used to and really enjoy your visit.

What else surprised you on your first trip to China? Share with us in the comments!

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