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What I Learned While Living In China

Updated on May 19, 2015

Nothing About China Is Scary

On Western TV China is made out to be the Communist Red scary economic juggernaut out to get us. Sorry to burst your bubble, but there's nothing scary about it.

What you're seeing is corporate propaganda and the ignorant fear of Communism. Communism is a one party system, though it's easily argued that there's a marginal difference between America's political parties. In China the state owns the big corporations, in American the corporations own the state. If you disagree, just follow the money.

Chinese people are friendly, the food is fantastic, small businesses are everywhere, and life is quite relaxing.

Guangzhou China


The Food

Authentic Chinese food is fabulous. The main meat is pork. Chinese foods consists of meat, vegetables, rice, and flavored oils. You won't find that fake Cantonese garbage you find in Western Chinese restaurants.

The food is cheap. In many cases you can get a meal for 5 RMB. The conversion rate changes frequently, but it's less than $1. Over one year I lost 10 pounds from the healthy diet I enjoyed. American foods are boxed and processed with little nutritional value. How often do you see fat Chinese? You see very few fat Chinese.

Rice is the staple food. I had lunch without rice once and my coworkers looked at me like I was an alien. I have to admit after a few months I was tired of constantly eating rice and sadly went to McDonald's. I'm not proud of it, but once in a while your palette needs a change of flavor.

There were never any lines at local restaurants. There are so many mom and pop restaurants that no one ever had to wait. You'll often eat at a circular table with a spinning glass top. You order food for everyone and share it. You don't order an individual dish. You eat communally.

Chinese Dinner Party

The Drinks


Drinks in China are a strange bunch. The beers often come in 40 oz bottles similar to malt liquor in America. You'll see Harbin, Tsingtao, Budweiser, and a few others. You can buy a bottle in any store for about one USD. They don't check your ID, ever.

The popular liquor is called Beijiu pronounced Bi-ju. It tastes like rubbing alcohol until the 3rd of 4th shot when you can't taste it anymore. You can buy it anywhere in China, and now in some liquor stores in the U.S.

Drinking In Public

Whether it's China, Japan, or any other Asian country, you can drink in the street. This is one freedom, America needs. There's no good reason citizens shouldn't be allowed to walk in public drinking alcohol. This restriction truly annoys me every time I return to the U.S.


The Politics


Yes China is Communist, just like Cuba. Much like America though, you don't feel the politics on the streets. The closest encounter I had with politics was going to the state owned bank. Instead of name tags, they had number tags. They are communal so their names aren't important.


I'm sorry to say this, but it's how I feel. I was more comfortable around Chinese police than American police. Chinese police smiled and were friendly. They never bothered me once, they never stopped me, they need made me feel suspicious. American police scare and intimidate me. You can disagree, but American police often come across as overly armed bullies and think citizens are conspiring against them. Yes there are good police, but I haven't met any.

Small Business

I was surprised to see the number of small business flourishing. Chinese citizens often save up money to open a business. If it fails they save up again and try again in the future. They are quite capitalistic, more so than America.

Opportunity Knocks

You should visit China on vacation if possible. You might even consider teaching English there if you can. Living in China feels like another planet, and that's part of the allure. By immersing you truly enjoy new perspectives, different ideas, and realized that most news you watch is full of lies.

If you have the time, I'd highly recommend getting the tourist visa and finding out for yourself. You'll have unforgettable stories for the rest of your life.


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    • Aussieteacher profile image

      Di 2 years ago from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

      I lived there for a while and love China. Good post. I have travelled solo around the country feeling safe too.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 2 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Your impressions of life in China are very interesting. In the 1970s I lived and taught English in Taiwan for over six years. This was one of the greatest times in my life when I really had a lot of good Taiwanese friends. While I was working for the government, I stayed in Beijing for two months in 1998. I stayed in a hotel. I didn't really care for the local people because they were very rough and would only talk and associate with me if they wanted to sell me something or use me for their benefit.