My Funny Experience in China

During the period of my life when I was a student at one of the Beijing universities I have experienced many funny but sometimes awkward or uncomfortable situations for me as a European. I met a lot of friends from many countries, from Europe to Africa. You can only imagine how interesting it is mixing cultures, meeting people from all over the world here in the middle of the diversified country. For all of us it is a cultural explosion. I don’t think I have just one favorite story, it’s hard to choose, and I also had many situations where before I learned any Chinese there was a huge language barrier that drove me insane! Let’s talk about my experiences of visiting places like the restaurant, spa, and different cities for the first time, and without any language knowledge.

I will never forget the first meal in a Chinese restaurant, a really small and typical place. I have visited there with polish friends with whom I have arrived in China for studies with. We decided to go to this random place, without first checking it out online, translating the menu and all those kind of things. So after checking the menu, looking solely at the pictures, we have ordered our meals no problem. We get them quite quickly actually, only probably 10 or 15 mins. I ‘m not really a picky person about food, I like simple dishes mainly, like chicken and rice, and I was so sure that what I had ordered was this. I wish I could see my face when I realized it was stinky Chinese tofu with rice and some herbs and vegetables. Personally for me it was so horrible and totally strange, something that I’d never experienced before. The rest of my friends were not lucky either. One of them received something similar to pig’s ears with nuts, well that’s what it looked like, we’re still not even sure to this day. After this uncomfortable situation, me and all my friends decide to study basic Chinese words for food. For example: chicken, beef, rice, noodles etc. Actually you could simply use Youdao Dictionary to translate English to Chinese if the waiter does not understand your English or “Chinese”.

I remember really well my first time in the SPA. After entering, you will get a pair of slippers and a key for your locker, where you have to put all of your clothes, and then you have to go inside totally naked. Only the employees are wearing swim suits. The first time, I was little bit nervous about going in front of so many people absolutely naked, but us women can handle these things quite quickly. I went there with my friends, one from Tanzania and another from Morocco. They have been in China for almost one year already so it was not that surprising for them, but for me, my first time, it was totally strange how they are so comfortable with their naked body in front of other people.

After all I can tell honestly how good the pain was just for those moments!

To tell the truth, I just chose randomly the service from the menu, without really knowing what it was. So I laid down and I was prepared to experience a relaxing, calming massage. But I was so wrong. The woman was cleaning me like a floor. The face was OK, but the back, legs, arms, chest and so on- I do not want to mention all the parts that were really in pain. I was kind of happy when she finished I was looking forward to that nice massage that I’d hoped would come afterwards, but she just started to hit my now red body with her larger than average Chinese palms. I needed awhile to recover after she was finished and, all of sudden, something landed on my back! The first cup was on my back. Next time, I have to spend more time reading the menu and I will have to learn how to describe things that I DO NOT want in Chinese. I then realized that I ordered the Chinese cupping! OK, I told myself that we should try everything and be adventurous. Actually, after the beating and scratching, it was kind of nice. Even though my back was full of reddish, bluish, well all kinds of ugly coloured marks for a few weeks.And then later I heard from my Chinese friends, Chinese Cupping is very good for health, it can release pain and let people feel refresh.

Another interesting experience for me is visiting new places out of Beijing. Last year I have been in small city 2 hours away from the capital, called Linyi. I went there with group of friends for a trip and expo organized by another Chinese friend. It was only for two days, and one night. Me and my friends from Georgia, Serbia and Pakistan after arriving about 11pm have decided to go sightseeing in the local neighborhood. We used transportation in the form of a tuc-tuc and just was riding around about 2 hours during the night :D Afterwards when riding on the small and tight streets, we were a little bored, so we went to club somewhere which was full of lights and colorful areas. This place was totally different than here in Beijing. We could not see any foreigners like how we used to meet and hang out in the capital. The place was full of Chinese teenagers and the music was only in Chinese. We were about to leave when suddenly I saw group of European girls. I have decided to go to them and talk. How surprising it was when they told me they are from Poland! They are dancers there in this small city’s club. Of course we joined them at their table and were talking how we feel about China, exchanging experiences, stories and opinions. My friends were so impressed, it was really a great night. I still keep in touch with those girls even when they are in different city.

In conclusion I can tell honestly, I am in love with China. I am grateful that my university in Poland gave me the opportunity to study here because thanks to this I have started my adventure in China. It was the beginning of amazing adventures, meeting many people who are currently my best friends. I miss Poland, my family and also friends there but I feel my heart already belongs to China. I’m always meeting situations which are hard and sometimes makes me down but this is life. We experience bad and good things but it’s very important is to find what we love to do and just realize our dreams.