2. Just because someone is yelling in Chinese doesn't mean they are angry.
I have a theory about this actually. In English and nearly every other western language, we use tone or vocal inflection to convey mood. In Chinese, you don't have that option because if you alter the tone, you completely alter the word. When we alter our tone we can change the meaning but the word stays the same. So, in order to convey mood, sometimes I think the Chinese use volume and speed to convey mood. To western ears, faster and louder speaking usually equates to yelling or anger. It is just a knee-jerk reaction that I have to resist.
3. My passport number; you need it for everything.
I've been elbowed so many times by old women trying to get into or onto places ahead of me. Old women don't care. Old women don't give a shit. They just take what they want. And who is going to stop them?
5. Things that are made in China for Chinese people are the worst quality products. The "good" stuff gets exported. And nearly all "exports" coming in are fake.
Some things you don't care about whether or no it is fake or not. Kate has a few fake "designer" handbags which she is perfectly fine with. We've bought quite a few bootleg DVDs over here. The big one to watch out for is wine and liquor. When these are fake, it can cause legit medical problems. I've had a few bottles that were fake and you can tell by mid-bottle. It starts to taste like nail-polish or some other chemicals. I've found a few shops that do legit imports and you pay $10-20 more for what you are getting than you would in the states. But, it is worth the money knowing you aren't getting chemicals. You just have to forget about what it costs in the states. Because here, it costs X amount and if you want the real thing, you have to pay for it.
6. The Chinese childhood lasts until at least 28. There are 2 years of adolescence and then straight to old age. Maturity and independence are "foreign" terms.
Now, where we live is relatively nice. We've only had one day that was like the picture and that was in the winter in a period with no rain and no wind. You could taste the air and it was disgusting. But, to the other point, China is all infrastructure. The sophistication amongst the people and the leadership has not arrived yet. In some ways, Chinese thought has not reached the 21st century yet. For Westerners, we all see the same things. Logic and practicality do not live in China. But, again, China has had one of the most radical transformations in the shortest amount of time. The people will catch up with the technology and the 21st century thought-process at some point. Probably faster than we anticipate.
Seriously. Suzhou to Shanghai in 23 minutes which would take 1.5 hours driving. Suzhou to Beijing in 5 hours which would take 15 hours driving. Get your head out of your ass, America. For nearly anywhere, it is 1/3 of the travel time.
9. Most Chinese people are willing to try to communicate with you even if your language skills are very poor. Huge difference from Europe and other non-English speaking places.
For all of the things that are different, most of our life in China is very similar to our life in Houston or Tucson. Yes, you have to know at least a little bit of a different language to get by (but not that much - my chinese is terrible and I am still able to get what I need). You have to plan ahead a little more. For instance the grocery store isn't a place where you can buy a week's worth of food. First, how would you get it back to your apartment? You don't have a car and even with a taxi you still have to walk it a long way into the apartment complex. Second, refrigerators are small over here. We don't have the massive double door fridges that are in the states. So, you take life one day at a time and you spend more time out walking to get things. It isn't a bad trade off.
Especially now that we have a child, we are experiencing more rubber-necking and gawking. It bothered me when we first got here because as an American who only ever lived in America and almost exclusively in bigger cities, I am used to seeing people of all different races/countries/etc. It has never been a big deal to me. But, Suzhou, despite being a city of 12 million people is still kind of small and isn't the international hub that is Shanghai or Beijing. Now you just ignore it or if they catch you on a bad day, you stare right back at them making eye contact so they feel awkward and look away.
Here are things we can't find over here:...........My scent of Gillette deodorant and shoes that are big enough for me. That is about it. Nearly everything can be found somewhere. You might pay a little more but you can find it. But for most things, we've realized how much we can live without and still be completely happy. It is a good lesson that we will take with us wherever we go next.
Have you lived somewhere other than the states? What did you find different?