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Surviving China facts: Smartphone Tips

Posted on Posted in Chinese Culture

Imagine yourself casually walking on the sidewalk in the middle of a Chinese city you have never been too. You are looking around taking in all of the new sites and wondering what types of memories you will make here.

Suddenly there’s this aggressive horn coming from behind you and someone yelling (probably profanities) at you in Chinese while riding their electric scooter. You’re probably wondering, what is this guy yelling about and what can I say to make him stop?

Now imagine yourself arriving to Shanghai, a new city for you, and you want to do some exploring. You decided to find the nearest metro station and play a little game called subway roulette. It’s when you get off at a random subway stop at whim and start exploring the area around you.


Living in China

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to look up some nearby restaurants or attractions at your new destination?

Those were some of my first moments in China, where I learned that traffic laws do not exist, and that there are many places to explore everywhere you turn.

I’m a current student at Boston University. Over the next 4 months I will be interning in GoGlobal’s Human Resources Department and blogging about different tips I collect during my time in China. Even though I’ve only been in China for about 2 weeks, so far everything has been an adventure.

From getting honked at on the sidewalk to mistakenly getting off at random subway stops, I have already gathered some interesting stories to tell when I head back home. However, some of my mishaps, like the Chinese profanities, have been easily solved thanks to a few apps I’ve come across.



Pleco is a translation app available for iPhones, iPads, and Android phones. With Pleco, users are able to translate seamlessly from English to Chinese. With just the free basic version of Pleco, users are able to input Chinese characters in a number of ways including: typing out the stroke order, drawing the character, or typing the pinyin.

From there the user can translate the character to English and vice versa. Pleco is a great app if you are taking Chinese courses, or just being yelled at on the street.

For information check out the Pleco website.



SmartShanghai.com is a website and an app that the expats here in Shanghai use. It’s updated daily with information ranging from dining and nightlife to travel destinations and shopping.

SmartShanghai has some great features such as the Browse Area feature located under the dining tab for users to find local restaurants. SmartShanghai also has a classified section where users can post and view apartment and job listings that other SmartShanghai users post.

The job listings run the gamut from teaching positions to foot models and everything else in between. They even has a sister website (called SmartBeijing.com) where Beijingers can get similar updates.



If you’re in China and you suddenly make a Chinese friend the first thing they will ask you for is your WeChat.

WeChat is a messaging and social media app that everyone in China uses. On WeChat users can make their own private one-on-one messages or group messages that can have up to 100 people in them!

What makes WeChat stand out against other messaging apps is its use of QR codes. Each WeChat user is given a unique QR code that other users can scan when they want to connect with one another.

In addition, WeChat has a sticker feature, which allows users to be silly and quirky with their messages by adding cartoon animations to their chats. We could go on and on about WeChat and it’s amazing features but for now if you want more information check out the WeChat website.


Baidu Maps

Baidu Maps is the equivalent of Google Maps here in China. With Baidu Maps, users are able to input an address and find step-by-step directions to their desired destination. Baidu Maps is perfect when you need to tell your taxi driver your desired destination but you aren’t sure how to pronounce the address.

With Baidu maps, make sure you can read some Chinese characters since the website is written in entirely Chinese. However, if your destination has an English name, Baidu maps can certainly find it!


Cover image: nypost.com

What apps do you use every day in China? Leave a comment below.
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