Main Differences Between China & America

Written by Garrett Schuman, (University of Kansas) Student Correspondent
Summer Intensive Chinese Language in Kunming, Summer 2015

1) Table manners: not to say that they don’t exist, but they’re a lot more lax about it, they want you to enjoy what you’re eating 🙂

Me using chopsticks at this point.

Me using chopsticks at this point.

2) Bodily functions in public- so far I’ve seen a mother holding up a child to pee in a trash can, and it’s perfectly acceptable to spit in public, which I’ve seen a lot of much to my dismay.

The face I wish I could make at whoever I see spitting on the street.

The face I wish I could make at whoever I see spitting on the street.

3) Rules of the road- I’m not sure why it’s this way, but how driving/crossing the street works is completely different. In America, cars always stop for pedestrians, and the right of way seems to go to someone who got there first, but here the larger vehicle wins out. Also, it’s normal to stand in the road waiting for cars, and no one seems to give a hoot about jaywalking (it’s the same back home, but it’s technically illegal). Crossing a busy street takes some serious skill, and I’ve got to say I don’t have it because I’ve almost gotten myself run over a couple times.

When I successfully make it across the street in China.

When I successfully make it across the street in China.

4) Directness- Chinese people are unbelievably kind, and they can also be to the point at times. A good of example is relationships. I feel like in normal conversation, we don’t really ask anyone about who they’re dating unless we’re close friends or it just comes up. Chinese people seem to pop the “Do you have a girlfriend/boyfriend?” question quite often. I still can’t explain the reason why I don’t have a girlfriend very well. A tub of ice cream counts as one though, doesn’t it?

How I feel every time I'm asked if I'm dating someone.

How I feel every time I’m asked if I’m dating someone.

5) Population- generally speaking virtually all of China’s population has around these same features: black hair and dark eyes. The other day when I was on the bus, there were three people on the bus just straight up staring at me. I like the attention, but not when someone looks at you like you came from outer space.

When I'm stared at.

When I’m stared at.