Tag Archives: culture shocks

Gross generalizations about China from the new guy: AKA Grumpy Grunting

Below is an email I wrote to a friend, who asked about living in Shanghai.

China is a bit like Blade Runner. I recommend the book ‘Wild Swans’ and the Mao book by the same author, which will give you some context & history. When you’re done, take the same characters and society then add billions of dollars and a bloodthirsty (government sponsored) desire, from each and every person, to become rich. it’s not pretty, or efficient, or ethical, or sensible, but it does make money. Lots of money. There are millions of millionaires here. there are hundreds of billionaires. Also, everything ever is a business decision, and until I learn enough Chinese to have more interesting conversations, here’s the one conversation I have, over and over:
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Reflections on US culture shock

I recently returned from my first trip back to the United States since moving to Shanghai. When I arrived in China I was so completely shell shocked that individual moments of ‘culture shock’ didn’t really stick out. Returning to the States was an interesting exercise in reverse culture shock, re-experiencing some of the oddities of American Culture.

A continuation of comments started on Twitter:
1: Eavesdropping on stupid conversations just because I could understand them.

2: Appreciating good service at bars/restaurants, but frustrated I couldn’t bark 服务员 when I needed something.

3: Small town America knows that you’re not from around here about as quickly as China.

4: Store your RMB Elsewhere. “Sir, you can’t pay with Canadian money” is more embarrassing than I expected.

5: Top replies to “We live in China”:

“What an adventure!”
“Do you like it?”
“I know [someone] in [somewhere that isn’t China.]”

6: Driving long distances at high speed. Sure, I’ve spent an hour or two in a cab hurdling dangerously to the Pudong Airport, but I’d forgotten how much that, in America, outside a few dense urban cities, everything is 30min drive from everything else.

7: Drinking water from the tap.