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Before your stay, Cultural

Unusual things you might not know about China…

When you think about China a lot of different things will come to mind, but there are also some things you might never expect. Cultural differences are often bigger than expected, but we are here to give you a little bit of guidance so that you are not taken completely by suprise when you experience these situations.

The first strange thing I noticed in China was that people always share their weight in public, especially women!  In China it’s normal for people to talk about their weight and ask someone about her or his weight. And of course they answer very proud and are not embarrassed or angry about the question. So, if you get asked about your weight in China, dont worry… share away!

The second funny thing I’ve observed in China is that you can tell someone that he or she is fat. Usually in Western countries no one dares to say that someone is fat. Maybe only your doctor has the right to say that you have too much weight on, but he would probably just use the term “overweight” and not “fat”. So what is the reason for people in China to tell someone that they’re fat? Mainly because if you are considered ‘fat’, then it is a sign of wealth, health and general happiness in your life. For men it is a sign of strength and if you are fat then you may be called strong!
So, again, if a Chinese person calls you fat then please don’t take offense – it’s a compliment!

Another strange thing in China is that anyone can ask anyone how much money he or she makes. When you go out with Chinese people for a coffee and talk about your job for example, the question might pop up: “how much money do you make?”. For Westerners this question is not normal, in our countries it is not usual to talk about salary and if you talk about it, usually amounts are not mentioned. But in China it is a normal question and they are always willing to answer! Another topic that is usually discussed is rent. For example, when someone has to pay more rent for their apartment, the typical conclusion will be “you are so rich.” In contrast, the average Western person will feel very uncomfortable talking about money.

A final strange thing that I’ve noticed during my stay in China is that most guys carry their girlfriend’s/wife’s handbag when out in public together. Chinese men never have a problem carrying handbags; they are really happy and proud of it! In general it is not common in Western countries for a guy to carry his girlfriend’s handbag, except maybe if it’s too big or heavy. Another peculiarity of Chinese couples: they like to wear the same clothes as their partner as a sign of affection…

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