6 things I’ve learned from 6 months in China.

by Natalie

I am now almost exactly six months into my Chinese adventure and it’s been….different to England. Here are 6 of the things I have discovered so far in ‘The Middle Kingdom’.

1. I would not enjoy the life of a celebrity

It’s safe to say that if you do not enjoy your picture being taken both with and without your permission at all hours of the day, regardless of what you are doing, then China is not for you.

My personal favourite was being unexpectedly wedged into the arms of a statue by a group of Chinese tourists, only to be left stuck (and by ‘stuck’, I quite literally mean ‘unable to move without assistance’) there once they’d got bored of their novelty ‘laowai’ (foreigner).

2. Chinese cannot be directly translated into English

Although for comedy value, it should be.

3. Walking backwards while clapping your hands together is good for your brain…

…and is an integral part of your typical Chinese workout regime. Which also includes other classics such as; flapping ones arms as though trying to take flight, and repeatedly punching oneself in the thigh.

They are performed publicly and attract not even the bat of an eyelid. I on the other hand go out to buy a bottle of water and people act as though I’ve just emerged from a spaceship waving a bag of my own faeces around.

4. All parts of all animals are food.

And you will never be sure what animal or body part you are consuming at any time. Fun.

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Whole frogs?

5. Smaller is always better.

I cannot tell you how many times strangers have approached me, raised a hand as a measuring tool, and complimented me on my small face. Something I still haven’t learned to respond to with anything more appropriate than an openly baffled ‘ermm thanks?’

So I was even more thrown when my (non English speaking) hairdresser took it upon himself to hack off two very noticeable chunks of hair at the front of my head to an alarmingly short length in order to ‘make my face look smaller’. Apparently a face can never be too small!

6. China is really big.

I took a 12 hour train from Shanghai to Huangshan. Through the night. At Chinese New Year. Twelve hours! That long on a train in England would take you wayyy out of the country. Not here. Below is a map of how far I traveled in an entire night. And yet they insist on just the one time zone.