Ni hao, UM

I had the opportunity to study abroad in China and Vietnam over the summer, and while spending three weeks in beautiful Kunming I gathered several observations about the Chinese people – besides their apparent obsession with Forrest Gump.

  1. All you need are three phrases to get you around in China: “thank you,” “how much?” and “I’m sorry!”
  2. Do not wear a tank top or shorts higher than your knees in China. This will cause angry little Chinese women to point at your legs and scream in disgust. What to do? Consult your list of three phrases, and go with “I’m sorry.” In the beginning, all I knew how to say was thank you, and that certainly did not help my case – it just led to more reprimanding.
  3. Do not be startled when your Chinese tour guide claims he speaks no English and then whips out a microphone and begins singing “My Heart Will Go On.”
  4. This song is apparently a big hit in China, and when you remind someone there that the song came out eleven years ago, they give you a look that reads, “huh?”
  5. All Chinese buses are equipped with karaoke machines. Seriously.
  6. The Chinese are expert squatters, and, while I can barely bend my knees, they squat on the streets all day long. Babies and elderly included.
  7. The public toilets in China consist of basic holes in the ground (it’s the same in Italy but somehow it seems more exotic here).
  8. To use them, squat!
  9. When in China, do as the Chinese do… get the best foot massage of your life for only five dollars! Actually, I have never actually seen another Chinese person where I got my foot message. I did however see everyone in my study-abroad group coming and going every day at every hour.
  10. The Chinese people will bend over backwards balancing on chopsticks just so you feel comfortable.

So you see, if I could move anywhere right now, it would be China. If you ever have the chance to visit this amazing country, then do it. You will never regret it. Also, get a willing Chinese person drunk. You will also never regret it. Zai Jien!

September 14, 2008


Lisa Magedler

Contributing Columnist

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