China Culture Shock


Before arriving in China many people don't know what to expect. Will it be something completely different from what they are accustomed to or will it almost be the same, since it is developing so fast? The answer is quite simple: it is an Asian country with a different culture, so there will be a degree of culture shock in China . Understanding the social etiquette of the country before visiting can help to make the experience less overwhelming. Here are something to know before traveling to China.


Don't be confused by family name and first name.
The names of Chinese people have their own tradition and characteristics. Unlike westerners, the family name in China is put first, followed by the given name. In most circumstances, both names have to be used at the same time.


Language barrier in China.
The language barrier is a really big problem in China since many different dialects are spoken there. People may not able to verbally communicate in different provinces but they are able to understand each other in writing.


Forms of address are used according to circumstances.

In China, various forms of address are used according to circumstances. Choosing the appropriate and correct form shows your knowledge and high respect to others.  Generally, addressing people's full name directly can be seen as very rude if you're younger than the person. In work place, You can call someone directly by his or her job title or put it before his or her surname or full name.


Personal space is narrow.

In China there are very different concepts of personal space than those in the West. The host will stand closer to, sit closer to and walk in closer proximity to the guest than in the West. In China a reasonable bodily separation may be virtually nonexistent. Therefore there is no "excuse me" or tap on the shoulder given when reaching across someone's place at a table or pushing past on a crowded street.


Hosts are very hospitable.

If you visit a Chinese family as a guest, you may find the host is very hospitable toward you. Visitors are usually kept occupied during a conversation. They probably will be offered with a lot of food and drinks.

When you leave, the host usually see the guest off . This goes far beyond the front door! Guests will often not only be accompanied to the street, but also have the host hanging around with them until a taxi or other transport arrives. It is not seen as a waste of time but  a duty of the host.


Gifts will be refused a number of times before it is accepted.
Don't be offended if you offer a gift and it is refused, as it is customary in China to refuse the first offer. In general, the expectation is that a gift is politely refused at first, even if it is desired, and will eventually be accepted after a few offers.


Compliments shouldn't be accepted graciously.
While it might seem strange to refuse a compliment, it is common to refuse compliments in China since accepting a compliment from the beginning can be seen as a sign of vanity. Chinese people always say "nali, nali." as a modest way to respond to a compliment.


You may be asked to take photos with locals.
Chinese people may ask to pose for a photo with you in public, especially in small cities without many foreigners.


Bicycle maybe the best transportation in crowded cities.

Large cities like Beijing and Shanghai have bad traffic especially during rush hours. Bicycle might be a better option sometimes.


Haggling is acceptable in China.
People in Asia generally consider Westerners to be rich. Many shops may try to charge a foreigner more what locals pay for the same good. Try haggling to reduce cost. It's a good way to practice Chinese.


Don't make people lose face.
Westerners may refer to it as "Pride", but the Chinese custom of "face" is a crucial and complicated factor of everyday life in that country. Unlike the West, saving face or giving face is regarded as a critical necessity. Always take into consideration other people's sense of pride when dealing with them and avoid making people look bad or impotent in public.