Miriam Katz, worked at Henan University of Technology (2014-2015)
I spent 9 months in China a few years ago, teaching at a university. I was there with my then fiancee. There are things I love there, but mostly I found it difficult to live there. I was expecting that there might be some kind of underground or alternative movement, but I couldn’t find one. Travelling around the country is pretty stressful. I got stared at so much because of being white and had my photo taken many, many times without giving my permission. My fiancee was chided for using his chopsticks “the wrong way.” I was once on a night train and I wasn’t given a bed, despite paying for one. There were so many people crowded over this poor woman who was providing tickets for beds. I had to shove my passport in her face to compete with everyone else. Once when I was on the bus, I tried to ask the driver when we would stop to use a bathroom and he waved me away from him. Not fun. I really liked my job, but my experiences there were very challenging. I was in the central/northern part of the country and I’d like to see the south someday, but I’m in no rush.
Alex Eady, I was in Shanghai and Beijing for a few weeks in 2016
Answered Jun 2
My concerns traveling to China were typical for first-time visit to a country.
Could I get around (not being fluent in any of the local languages)?
Would I find good food?
Would I get ripped off?
Would I be safe?
My concerns quickly evaporated.
Signs were well marked; many in English, but with a little effort it is possible to distinguish place names. The subway in Beijing was super affordable and announced every stop in multiple languages. Train stations and airports always had agents who spoke multiple languages (and signage to show where they were).
Food everywhere was delicious. I am not a picky eater, so I took whatever was offered. Street food was wonderful in Shanghai. Local cooking in Beijing tended towards spicy (some local boys thought it was really funny how RED I turned when eating it - the food was magically hot! - they took pictures with me).
If I got ripped off, I'll never know. Everything was reasonably priced. Prices were usually marked. As far as I could tell I was paying what the locals paid.
I never felt unsafe anywhere in China.
Correction - I prayed to every God I could name when I was taking taxis.
Aside from the taxis I never felt unsafe. I was very obviously a foreigner in this country, but was never targeted or in a situation that felt uncomfortable. I was never out alone late at night (I wouldn't do this in any city I didn't know). My travelling companion, who had been to China many times and spoke fluent Cantonese and some Mandarin, did have a cab driver try to extort him for money, but he knew where he was and got out and walked away.
In all, I was nervous going to China, but I quickly fell in love with the country and I would love to go back again for much longer.
Don Schultz, former Management Position
Answered Sep 25
The first time I visited China was in February 2004 it was just a cross border day trip from Hong kong to Shenzhen.
My first impression was “Wow” because the city was all brand new and on the surface seems super modern, however I soon realized all was not perfect!
People seem to be targeting me because I was a westerner, trying to sell me things I had no interest in, although I never felt really unsafe or concerned and for the most part the people were fairly kind.
But walking around I noticed drivers had little reguard to traffic laws(like in the US) nobody would stop for red lights or pedestrians or anything I was amazed that they didn't all crash into each other, but they seem to kinda just blend into seemingly chaotic stream and waves of pedestrians would simply jump back when cars came at full speed and all the cars would honk there horns constantly!
This all started driving me crazy! I remember when I finally got back across the border to Hong kong almost kissing the ground in relief!
However despite this first impression I have probably retured to China 12 times since,I find its really starting to grow on me !
The food is great and People are although not seemingly overly friendly have very kind of hearts!
The country is very progressive and the government takes action quickly to alleviate problems.
Environmentally China is a World leader in cleaning there footprint! Im now so Im impressed with there achievements, that I only can talk positively about this great country
And even the last time I was in Shenzhen a Driver actually stop for me to allow to cross the street:)
Rohan Dasika, Lived in Nanjing, China for 4 months
Answered 9h ago
I was studying Mandarin at Nanjing University for a few months and had the opportunity to stay with a host family. My main concerns were…
Would I be safe?
Could I get vegetarian food?
Are people kind to people trying to speak Chinese?
As far as safety goes, I took public transportation (buses, taxis) everyday to class and back. Friends and I would spend evenings by the river or exploring the city. We would travel regularly to places across the country (Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, etc). There were times when I would be coming back home way after midnight after a concert. But I never had to fear for my safety - I found that people typically mind their own business.
Vegetarian food is widely available, with one catch - you have to know how to ask for it! You can ask waiters/waitresses at restaurants to “not put meat”, but make sure to mention to “not put fish” as well. I’ve found that fish doesn’t come under the general umbrella of ‘meat’, and have sometimes gone halfway through a dish before finding tiny pieces of shrimp that I didn’t see before.
Chinese people are some of the kindest people I’ve come across. Overall in public places, there’s a fair amount of chaos just given the sheer number of people present. But, I’ve rarely seen people fight or get into large arguments. Within my host family and their extended family members, I appreciated how much they understood the significance of family and nurtured those relationships.
Within my host family and with strangers, people are incredibly patient with foreigners trying to learn Chinese. They know that it’s a hard language and that it just takes time. I’ve even had strangers correct my Chinese or suggest better ways to use phrases!
I’ll definitely be visiting again.
Answered Sep 24
I live in Copenhagen, Denmark, and i consider myself to have a broad end educated view of the world.
My experience after a 3 week trip to Shanghai, Hefei and Beijing was, that what i have been told about China in western media and education is a very very limited and biased view.
Any westener with a curious and open mind will have a mind-blowing experience in China, and the possibility to get a much more elaborated understanding of Chinese and Asian culture. I highly recommend that.
China is all in all a very safe and friendly country.
I completely changed my mind