Saturday, March 28, 2015

Germans vs. Chinese: Part 2 of 4

 More fun comparisons. Let's see, shall we?

6. Enjoying retirement
photo via WeChat

In the west, you get old, you get a pet. In China, you get old, you may get a pet, but the center of your universe is your grandchild. Most Chinese have to retire early--I think my mother-in-law was fifty at her retirement. Since it's common for both parents to work, many Chinese grandparents use their retirement years largely to help raise their grandkid until s/he starts preschool.

7. Scrub a dub, dub
photo via WeChat

I've always been a night showerer, which made the transition into one aspect of Chinese living easy. I can now truly appreciate the sanctity of the nighttime shower. After a long day out and about you get pretty dirty, this is particularly true where I live these days--the wind whips around dust, sand, dirt, and garbage. You come home and you take off you "outdoor" clothes and switch to your "indoor" clothes (often pajamas). You wash off well or shower before hitting the hay, keeping your bed clean and cosy. Zzzzzz.

8. Life's little annoyances
photo via WeChat

This is one I've never gotten good at. When you're unhappy and you know it, your face surely shouldn't show it. Well, unfortunately, my annoyance and anger usually shows quite clearly, but this is poor form in China. I'm not sure if it's an aspect of saving face or just good etiquette, but in any case, I stink at it.

9. Punctuality
photo via WeChat

Germans are known for being very punctual. Most of my American friends and family are pretty good at being on time, but there are those that are routinely half an hour late (or more). I'm not sure what to make of the Chinese clock here. Maybe it varies regionally, but in Chengde people often come early. And when I mean early, I mean early. I've hosted parties and have had people show up an hour(!) before the start time. Where I come from, this is poor form. I've talked to some of my students about it and they explained that Chinese people think it's polite to come early and help the host get ready. What that really translates to is come early and watch the host get ready.

10. Transport Trends: Then (1970) vs Now (2000's)
photo via WeChat

In the decade I've been in China, I've seen the Chinese fall hard and fast for the automobile. During my first year, no one I knew had a car. Now nearly everyone does. I remember, living in Beijing in 2006, when I work up early enough to experience rush hour, I'd see the bike lanes brimming with bikes. There were parking lots for bikes everywhere, but then slowly, the bike racks were done away with; whatever room was available was needed for cars. Traffic is horrible and we are now all choking on exhaust fumes, but it sure is a lot cooler than riding a bike. Unless you live in the west, where in many cities, bikes are making a comeback.

Have you or do you live in another country? Are there any customs you found particularly easy to adapt to?


martalivesinchina said...

I used to be a night showerer when I was a kid, but now I can't imagine getting outside in the morning without showering first! When we started living together my boyfriend changed his showering habits (I didn't ask him to, he just did!) and we both shower in the morning.

Regarding number 8 I think there is an added problem with that: sometimes Chinese people don't agree with you on something and this can be problematic for example when it is a work issue and they pretend they agree but later on they get mad...

rosieinbj said...

Ah, yes, you bring up a really good point with number 8. You must have so many juicy stories working in an office setting!

martalivesinchina said...

My previous job was a nightmare in that sense, haha. The Chinese supervisors would have meetings with the engineer from Spain, who would tell them exactly what they had to do, they would nod their heads and then do whatever they wanted. Sometimes they would change some material or component because they would save 0.0001 RMB and often this would cause problems in the products!