The Pudong skyline from the bund during the daytime

Culture Shock in China

Posted on Posted in Chinese Culture

My name is Shelby Carlson and I am from Sacramento, California. I go to school at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona and just finished up my second year majoring in Business Administration, Management.

I will be doing a Human Resources and Marketing internship at GoGlobal in Shanghai for the next two months, and will be sharing some of my experiences in China on this blog.


Culture shock

I have only ever been out of the country to Canada before, so I knew I would be in for some serious culture shock when I arrived in Shanghai. It was really important to me to read up on Chinese culture before I came because I knew that things are offensive in the United States that aren’t offensive here and vice versa.

For example burping in public or pushing someone to get on the metro are completely acceptable in China – burping is even encouraged to show you enjoyed the food you ate.

I have also been surprised by experiences in China that I hadn’t read about before my arrival. For example, when entering the metro station there is a security checkpoint with guards that indicate if you need to put your bag through the scanning machine or not.

Most people completely ignore the guards and just go through without getting their back screened, which would never happen in the U.S.


Speaking English

There are a lot of people that speak English, but they are not always the people you hope would speak English. Most Chinese restaurants don’t have workers that speak English (or they speak limited English), so unless the menu has a lot of pictures it can be difficult to order.

Most Chinese people are for the most part friendly and patient, and they will take the time to try to understand you. When I feel I’ve reached a dead end, I just start laughing. If you can’t communicate with someone, laughing can make them feel more comfortable about not being able to understand you.

So far I really love China and can’t wait to see what else I get to experience here!


Adapting to the Chinese culture is daunting but doable, share with us some of your experiences with culture shock.
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