Living In China
How to Feel at Home, Make Friends, and Enjoy Everyday Life: A Brief Introduction to the Culture for Visitors, Students, and Business Travelers
First edition: ⓒ 2008
by Lin Wang and Xiaohua Wei
Number of Pages: 84pages
ISBN 10: 0-86647-267-3, ISBN 13: 978-0-86647-267-8
Is the twenty-first century "The Chinese Century?" At the very least, this fascinating country is already a major force in our global village, and as such, this short, informative book not only prepares the visitor to China, but offers factual, historical, and cultural information that will be of interest to any global citizen.
The text, amplified by many pictures collected by the authors, follows the same format as the other titles in Pro Lingua's "Living In" series. Unlike typical travel guides, this series does not tell you where to eat and stay and how to get from say, Beijing to Shanghai. Instead it helps prepare you for getting the most out of your visit, physically when you go there or virtually if you only read about it.
Living in China focuses on practical information needed for everyday life - money, food, hotels and travel (First Steps); on Chinese Culture and how it interfaces with those of "the West; on facts about the country, the land, people, government, economy, and history; on doing business in China: on getting a job in China; and it gives a brief introduction to the Chinese language and many useful phrases.
To the busy traveler, this series of very readable and entertaining guides provides a brief introduction, vital statistics, a little history, and a lot of practical advice that instill a sense of security from the time you arrive at the port of entry. Everything you really need to know - from money and banking practices to health tips to local customs and a brief historical overview - is at your fingertips, in a book that neatly fits in your jacket pocket. If you don't know the territory - or the people - this guide is good company to any stranger in a strange land."
Patrick J. Leahy, U.S. Senator from Vermont
Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee
Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Relations
Living in or just visiting China today is an eye-opener, offering you more to see than just a few well-known historic landmarks that have fascinated so many around the world. You will be greeted with the hospitality of 56 ethnic groups throughout the country with their unique cultures and customs, in contrast to only a few places open to foreigners in the 1980's when China had just opened its door to the outside world. These 56 ethnic groups, of which the Han people make up 93.3 percent of the total population, have their own dialects, but they also share a common language that is Putonghua or Mandarin. In section 6 of this book you will find basic Chinese survival language to help you get around.
This book is more than a travel guide; it will help you to understand the past and present of the world's largest population, especially the way Chinese people live, work, and play today. However, it is a changing China that we are presenting to you - China is changing fast, and that must be kept in mind. Nevertheless, we are sure that this book will make it easier for you to work or study, or just to visit China and to communicate with the Chinese people. Above all, we are writing this book to build bridges of understanding and cooperation. China and America are two great nations in the world sharing mutual aspirations of peace and development. Better understanding and cooperation are in the interest of the people of these nations and all other nations. We are confident that this book will serve as a bridge builder with new, useful, and interesting information about China, a fast-changing country.
Table of Contents:
- ixA Note on Pinyin
- 11. First Steps
- 11.1 Money Issues
- 31.2 Tips
- 31.3 Bargaining
- 41.4 Getting Help from Your Chinese Friends
- 41.5 Eating in China
- 51.6 What do Chinese Eat?
- 51.7 Where to Eat?
- 51.8 Chinese Food in the U. S.
- 61.9 Eating Customs and Cultural Differences
- 61.10 Chinese Cuisine
- 81.11 Names of the Dishes
- 111.12 Driving
- 121.13 Air Travel
- 121.14 Traveling by Train/Bus
- 131.15 Hotels
- 151.16 Traveling by Bicycle
- 151.17 Health and Medical Care
- 171.18 Communication: Mail, Telephones, Email
- 191.19 Electricity
- 201.20 U.S Embassy and Consulates in China
- 211.21 Weights and Measurements Conversion
- 222. Culture, Philosophical Concepts and Manners
- 222.1 Philosophical Basis of Chinese Culture
- 252.2 Chinese Manners
- 272.3 Common Ways of Greeting
- 282.4 Responding to Compliments
- 282.5 Common Ways of Expressing Gratitude; Replies to Gratitude
- 282.6 Smiling Apology
- 292.7 Taking Pictures with Your Chinese Friends
- 292.8 Gift Giving
- 302.9 Taboos in Gift-giving
- 302.10 Culture Bumps
- 363. Country Facts
- 363.1 Geography and Climate
- 403.2 Population, Religions, and Holidays
- 473.3 Administrative Divisions and Major Cities
- 473.4 Government
- 493.5 Educational System
- 533.6 Economy
- 553.7 Chinese History
- 594. Doing Business in China
- 594.1 Establishing Business Relations
- 594.2 Business Negotiation 59
- 614.3 Eye Contact and Body Language
- 614.4 Business Social Customs
- 625. Applying for a Job in China
- 625.1 Getting Ready to Apply
- 625.2 Deciding Where to Work
- 635.3 Deciding What to Do
- 635.4 How to Apply
- 645.5 Tips for Those Going to China
- 655.6 Additional Tips
- 665.7 Job Offer and Contract
- 665.8 Getting the Right Visas to Enter China
- 675.9 Obtaining a Visa to Enter Hong Kong Special Administration
- 686. Chinese Language
- 686.1 Mandarin Chinese
- 696.2 Pictographic Chinese Characters
- 696.3 Survival Chinese
- 747. Other Resources, Useful Websites and Books
- 76Appendix A: U. S. and Canadian Embassy and Consulate Addresses
- 79Appendix B: Administrative Divisions and Major Cities
- 82Appendix C: Chronology of Chinese History
1.9 Eating Customs and Cultural Differences
The main difference between Chinese and western eating habits is that in the West, each person has their own plate of food, but in China the dishes are placed on the table and everybody shares.
* When you are invited to eat in a restaurant by a Chinese friend, it means they will pay the bill. Chinese do not "go Dutch" as often as Americans do.
* When you eat in the home of a Chinese friend, they will certainly encourage you to eat more, picking up pieces of food with their chopsticks and placing them in your bowl or on your plate. While you are eating, your Chinese host will always say, "Help yourself. No good food to eat." This seems odd since there is plenty of good food prepared, but your host is being modest, pushing you to eat while admitting that there isn't much and it isn't good. Typically your friend will also keep encouraging you to drink more alcohol. This is a very common and polite way of treating guests in China, so your host may not notice if it makes you uncomfortable..
* Usually in the U.S., when a guest arrives, the food is already prepared, and you sit with your guest talking or sharing drinks. But in China, when you are invited to dine, you will find that your host will often leave you alone with a cup of tea, asking you to sit or watch TV while they are busy cooking in the kitchen. This may seem rude to you, making you feel uncomfortable. However, in Chinese cuisine, many good dishes need to be cooked right before they are served, to keep the best, freshest taste. Typically you will see steam coming up from the plate or bowl as it is served.
Facilities and service
Hotel rooms are normally equipped with a telephone, TV, internet connection, hair dryer, iron, and refrigerator. You will be provided with towels, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, shampoo, and a comb. Breakfast is not included. We don't give tips in the hotel, but many foreigners give small tips to those who help them carry their luggage to their room when they check in. There are no tips for the waiters/waitresses and the taxi driver, because a service fee is charged already. If you receive very good service and want to express your appreciation, you may write a brief comment in their Customer Comment Book, and they will certainly enjoy reading it.
Chinese pay a lot of attention to how they eat at the table. While table manners may vary from place to place, the following are common ones:
* Do not just take any chair to sit down at the dinner table. Wait till the host gives you a position to sit at the table.
* When exchanging business cards, hold yours with two hands and let your title face the receiver.
* When a toast is proposed for you, drink it up and show to your host that the cup is empty to show respect.
* Before you move the revolving table with different dishes, make sure no one else is getting food from the plates on the table.
* Do not stick two chopsticks upright in your bowl of rice. It is a big taboo because the shrine for the dead has a bowl of rice with two sticks of incense stuck straight.
* Chinese like to use toothpicks at the end of a meal to clean their teeth. If you feel a need to do so, try to cover your mouth with both hands while doing it. Then put the toothpick down discreetly.
* To show their hospitality, many Chinese hosts like to pick up the good food with their own chopsticks and put it onto your plate. When this happens, try to eat it and say how good the food is. If you cannot eat so much or do not feel comfortable, just thank the host and leave the food there.
* Do not tap on your bowl with the chopsticks, because beggars used to do it.
* When your host pours tea or wine into your cup or glass, tap the table gently with your hand to show "Thanks." (This is a widespread practice in southern China.)
* If you are a host, offer the seat facing the door to your most senior or distinguished guest. Make sure the teapot spout does not point at anybody.
4.3 Eye Contact and Body Language
At the negotiation table with your business partners, look into their eyes when they talk to show your sincerity. Have a notebook in front of you to take some notes. This will present a very positive image to the Chinese side, as it is considered standard manners at meetings at various levels in China. During the negotiation, do not take a nod from your potential business partner as an agreement. It more often means they are listening to you carefully.
5.3 Deciding What You Want to Do in China
This can be a very difficult decision to make. An American professor of biology or economics can end up teaching very basic English conversation at a college that offers a teaching position in the Biology or Economics Department. Of course, you may teach your real subject in an M.A. or Ph.D. program in more prestigious institutions of higher learning. But it is often the case that you will spend a lot more time teaching your students how to pronounce difficult words and how to communicate in English. Foreigners with a liberal arts background and teaching experience are particularly welcome by the English and other departments of a college or university. Those with an M.B.A. and management experience are more welcome to work in companies and enterprises jointly run by Chinese and foreigners. No matter what you have already decided to do in China, be prepared to make an adjustment, because the concept of job assignment in China is very different from what you have in the U.S., where you just sign a contract and start doing what is specified in the contract.
5.7 Job Offer and Contract
After the Chinese side agrees to employ you, you will receive a job offer with general terms of employment. But this is by no means a contract; that will be signed after you arrive in China. After you arrive, you will talk face to face with your Chinese employer, who will show you the actual contract with a detailed job description. You need to read your contract very carefully, especially about your benefits such as pay, holidays, medical insurance, and air tickets.
||About the Authors
Lin Wang and Xiaohua Wei have BA's in English from China's Anhui University and MAT's from the School for International Training (SIT), Brattleboro, Vermont. Lin Wang earned his Certificate in Educational Assessment from the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES) in England and his Diploma in Education from Singapore National Institute of Education. Before coming to the U.S., they were associate professors at China's Shantou University. In China they have published bilingual textbooks. In the United States, Lin Wang has taught at the School for International Training, Sandy Spring Friends School in Maryland, and St. Michael's Independent School/the Pine School in Stuart, Florida, and is currently teaching at the Chapin School in New York. Xiaohua Wei has taught at the Hope Chinese School in Maryland, worked as an international student exchange program manager with Forte International in Washington, D.C., and is currently teaching at Lycee Francais de New York. They live in New York City with their daughter Ranran Wang.