I have been living in China for over a month now. Here is a list of my observations and experiences so far. Note that because I have only lived in the city of Rizhao, I do not know for sure whether certain things are true throughout all of China.

  1. When I arrived in Rizhao, I was provided a hotel room for two days while apartment hunting. I was shocked to discover that smoking was permitted inside the hotel. Since then I have seen people smoke almost everywhere. I can smell cigarette smoke nearly everywhere I go: restaurants, restrooms, buses, trains…
  2. I had to wait two weeks to get a washing machine installed in my apartment and I have still not received an air conditioner.
  3. I had to pay one year of rent in full, plus a deposit, plus a fee to the agent who found the apartment for me. For my apartment, one year of rent is 20,000 RMB, which is $242 USD per month. Back home in Louisiana, my rent was $600 per month.
  4. If you’re a fan of dairy products, China will disappoint you. Milk comes in a box. Butter and cheese are very expensive. Yogurt comes in a very limited variety.
  5. South Korea has much more American snack foods than China.
  6. Several businesses and restaurants won’t accept debit cards. You have to pay cash or with the WeChat app on your phone.
  7. Even in a small town, air pollution is a serious problem.
  8. I’ve witnessed children urinate in public. It was on the sidewalk, during the day, while people were walking by, and nobody reacted to it. I saw a boy and a girl naked from the waist down.
  9. China has blocked Google, but not Bing.
  10. China’s version of Tinder is Tantan. China’s version of YouTube is YouKu. China’s version of Uber is Didi.
  11. I hear firecrackers going off nearly every day.
  12. You have to go through security when you take a form of public transportation such as the bus, train, or subway.
  13. It’s very common for Chinese women to not shave their legs or armpits. I’ve heard that they also don’t shave or trim their pubic hair.
  14. Like in South Korea, it’s very common to see incorrect English on shirts and signs.
  15. As a foreigner, I get stared at A LOT. A guy recently asked to get his picture taken with me, like I was a celebrity. I’m always excited when I spot another foreigner in public because it’s so rare, but apparently I’m the only one. I’m always ignored by other foreigners in public. They walk right past me like they don’t even see me.
  16. There are restaurants that are always out of certain items on their menu. I come back again and again, thinking this time they’ll have it in stock, and they never do. So why even have it on the menu?
  17. Restaurants here tend to be very plain and nondescript. Sometimes I can’t even tell if a place is a restaurant until I go inside. Most have no pictures or English, so I can’t even guess what they serve.
  18. When I go to McDonald’s, no matter what I order, I get two options of dipping sauce: hot & spicy or sweet & sour. I’m only allowed one of those. When I ask for a condiment like ketchup, I’m told “No.” In America you can ask for one packet of ketchup and you’ll get a handful.
  19. I have yet to see any restaurants in China where you sit on the floor, which is very common in South Korea.
  20. Bowing is a big part of Korean culture. I had to bow a dozen times a day. I have never seen anybody bow to each other here in China.