I want to preface this post by stating that I encourage everyone to go live in a foreign country (especially China) at some point in their life.
Doing so is both a challenging and rewarding experience, and one that will create memories that will last a lifetime.
But living abroad is not without its pitfalls.
Here then are 5 reasons why you should NOT live in mainland China.
1. The food
Most laowais (foreigners) in China are familiar with the duck dance.
The duck dance is where you waddle through the subway desperately seeking the nearest bathroom because you have just indulged in the wrong batch of spicy dumplings.
In my experience, from the moment your body responds negatively to the local fare, you have about 30 minutes to find a toilet, or else you’re going to be on the wrong side of history and needing to change your pants.
I’m not kidding.
The way my body reacted to food was downright horrible.
After the first few months, I basically gave up on Chinese food and stuck to bags of Doritos, white rice, and the occasional baozi (small meat and bread combination) from 7-11.
One time, I was sick for two weeks after visiting a seafood buffet in Cambodia.
Now I know:
Cambodia is not China.
Even a geographical miscreant like myself realizes that.
Still, one would be best advised to avoid the traditional cuisine in China that can send your stomach into a whirlwind of malcontent.
Need more reason to stick to your regular diet?
I used to work at a mall in Beijing, and often when I went to the bathroom, I would see chefs exit the toilet stalls and walk right past the hand washing stations.
Sadly, these are the same people who were preparing everyone’s food…
… at least at the mall I worked at.
2. Chinese language
Mandarin is one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn.
The thousands of symbols and characters within the language are very complicated.
By contrast, the English alphabet has only 26 letters.
Yet, if you’re committed, learning basic phrases in Mandarin is not overly difficult.
The most important aspect to learning the language is to become fluent in their number system.
Doing so will save you hundreds of dollars because in China, especially at markets, people barter for goods and food.
Warning: if you don’t know the numbers, many vendors will try to rip you off.
When this happens, don’t take it personally. That’s just how business is conducted in China.
3. The weather
Every day in Beijing, there are clouds of smog cast over the city.
This makes it very difficult to breathe, and some days it is even necessary to wear a mask, and this is before COVID-19 became a thing.
Sadly, every year, many people die because of the pollution that goes on in China, and it appears the government does little to eradicate the issue.
4. Crowded subways
Public transportation in China is outstanding; perhaps even the best in the world.
Yet, during rush-hour, thousands of people come together and cram into the subways.
Unlike in Japan where people make every effort to avoid contact with each other on the subway, in China the locals welcome a good shoulder rub with their fellow passengers.
Naturally, over the course of my twelve months there, I caught a few people’s elbows from hurrying commuters who needed to make their next transfer or exit.
And if it’s flu season, watch out:
Expect coughs, sniffles, and other wanton bacteria to be floating around the jam-packed subway car because many Chinese people don’t cover their mouths when they let loose a massive sneeze.
There are many people in China who are notorious for trying to scam laowais out of their money.
These deceptive individuals often appear unbecoming, but before you know it, you are sitting down for a cup of tea that costs $300.
Some practices in China are purely transactional, and others are straight thievery.
These petty crimes aren’t exclusive to China, but in no other country have I found the same rampant amount of scamming.
Oddly enough, if you go to your local massage parlor, they’re actually very honest and transparent about their prices, but more on that later…
Do you agree with Quentin Super’s 5 Reasons NOT to live in China?
Drop a comment below and you could be the feature of Quentin Super’s next interview?
And stay tuned for next week’s article as Quentin Super lists his 5 Reasons why you should live in China.