Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Germans vs Chinese: Part 1 of 4

This time, a fun post I found on WeChat that illustrates the cultural differences between westerns, i.e. foreigners (specifically, Germans) and Chinese--shown in fun diagrams. German habits and customs are displayed on the left (blue) and Chinese on the right (red). As an American, I also find them pretty spot on. For those who live or have traveled in China, they are mostly self-explanatory. I'll make a few notes on them for those who might not understand the meaning.

1. Three meals a day:
photo via Wechat

Cold meals, such as cereal, salads, and sandwiches are not traditionally eaten among Chinese. Most Chinese people prefer to eat their meals hot and they will often eat quite large meals for breakfast and lunch. Where I live in China, porridge, noodles, stuffed buns, and even stir-fry are common breakfast foods. My family tends to keep things simple though and we usually just have a western-style breakfast of bread, yogurt, and eggs. Sandwiches and salads, however, are something I have to dine on alone.

2. Beauty is only skin deep:
photo via Wechat

I've always hated my fair skin. I was teased about it most of my life, called names like Casper (the ghost). . . then I came to China, a place where my skin tone (though not my freckles) is appreciated. Tans are not prized here and women will usually do whatever they can to avoid one, including hiding under a parasol all summer and using skin whiteners.

3. Volume control:
photo via Wechat

One thing most people notice when they first get to China is the noise. It is a noisy place and many Chinese enjoy the din. There is a word in Chinese, rènào, which means 'lively' or 'bustling with noise.' This is seen as a positive and evokes images of a loud, healthy, happy family.

4. Vacation style:
photo via Wechat

This is one aspect of modern Chinese culture that amazes me--people with their cameras. Though a recent phenomenon, many middle class and wealthy families own very expensive DSLR cameras, costing hundreds, if not thousands of US dollars. I've noticed that they spend most of their vacations hidden behind said cameras. In fact, one day I was strolling around lovely Beihai Park in Beijing, passing the Nine Dragon Wall, and overheard a tour guide speaking to her group, "Take a picture here. This is really the only thing worth seeing in the park. After you get your shot, we'll head to the bus." What an unfortunate way to spend a vacation!

5. Dining out:
photo via Wechat

Perhaps one of my favorite aspects of China, the lazy susan. When you eat out with a large group, it's common to reserve a room at a restaurant. Where I live this is free of charge though nicer restaurants may require a minimum purchase. Most rooms are equipped with large, round tables on top of which sit a lazy susan. This is great for eating family style, as Chinese meals typically are eaten. It also allows you to see (and toast!) all your dining companions.

What about you, are the customs in your country more similar to Germany or China?


martalivesinchina said...

I didn´t know that thing is called lazy Susan, hahaha.

Spain is similar to Germany in all aspects, except in the noise one. We are as noisy as Chinese!

rosieinbj said...

Marta, yes. . . a lazy Susan. I'm not sure where that name comes from! I remember your post about similarities between Spain and China. I guess some Americans can be noisy too, but I think it's sometimes considered rude when in public.