Acclimating and Culture Shock

China is amazing, beautiful, and fairly difficult to navigate as a foriegner who doesn’t speak the language. However, the people here are friendly, the food is amazing and attempting to learn Chinese in an immersive setting is proving to be a bit easier than attempting to learn back home. My new favorite breakfast is tangbao, translation soup buns. I literally could eat these everyday. I am learning a lot about how the rest of the world survives but I do have some tips for newcomers. All of the things I am attempting besides being brave, are exploring, learning the language, meeting new people and eating anything that smells delicious. Do these things and you will return home a completely different person.

  1. Bring Tylenol or Advil, and some type of stomach medication like Pepto; I have yet to find a Western style pharmacy
  2. Take every opportunity to hangout with the locals, even if you are struggling with the language, this helps curb the homesickness you are bound to feel and helps you learn the language much easier
  3. Even if like me you are taking a gap year from the quick pace of corporate life there are many things you can do to boost your resume, volunteering with a firm as a translator, taking some classes, and learning as much as you can about a different culture are all things that will help you be successful in your professional life
  4. Learn the language, only 1/3 of Americans have a passport, even less are bilingual, use this to your advantage
  5. Take the time to think about your career trajectory, I’ve already began applying to a couple medical anthropology, and epidemiology programs to help boost a career in research
  6. Enjoy the local culture, everything from the food and music to local festivities, here in China older women partake in “square dancing,” AKA dancing in a public square, as a form of exercise
  7. Even just walking around can make for some great photos and lasting memories, for instance the photo on this page I found in a textile “factory”, which was a little place where generations decorate and dye fabric with indigo in traditional styles
  8. If you see a food cart with a ton of people you need to try it, I ate duck intestine on a stick and a mango smoothie with red beans, both were insanely delicious
  9. Don’t be afraid to attempt to use the native language, most people are patient and will try to help you pronounce words and phrases
  10. Explore anywhere and everywhere you can, China is huge but Shanghai is only about an hour away and The Great Wall can be reached by train or plane fairly quickly and cheaply

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