As a foreigner living in China, what things do you find annoying? Why?
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Ishie Chipembere, Kindergarten superstar
1.The most annoying for me is the abrupt personal questions from a complete Chinese stranger: where are you from? how long have you been here?how much is your salary? are you married?
and wait....the minute you answer at least one or two of these questions, you are in for it, the the person asking these questions usually turns villain on you in the end, you always regret opening up to them...why?
2. The second most annoying is the ignorance ...the sheer ignorance about black and white, especially when the white foreigners also have this syndrome and look down upon anyone who is not white....and when they find out that a non white is legally in all respects living well and earning a good salary its like thats the biggest crime in china...then you get more questions...
Michael Hamilton, Lived in China 5 years, conversationally fluent
My biggest pet peeve is that everyone assumes you don’t know how to speak Chinese and act baffled when it becomes apparent that you can understand the language. It can make communication a big hassle, when they’ve already written you off in that sense.
Vammo, Lived in China on and off for 15 years
By "annoying" I take you to mean stuff that is not horrific but just gets on your nerves.
For me that would be the noise. All sorts of noise. It's a loud place. It's related to people showing a lack of consideration, which is related to people not caring about each other, which is a major problem because it results in all sorts of misery and early death, but in day to day life I would say that the noise is perhaps the biggest annoyance of living in China.
True story: beside my apartment was a construction site. The law (not sure if national or local) says that construction work is not allowed between I think 10pm and 6am. Of course there are many construction sites that operate 24 hours, including my one. i made use of the mayor's hotline - yes there is such a thing - and they sent two guys out at 11pm to observe what was going on, which of course was lots of loud machinery keeping me and lots of other people awake. so i'm on a university. first the university refused the guys entry. then when the guys parked down the road, they towed their car. eventually the guys from the mayor's office could do nothing but file a report. my university put me up for a few nights in one of their hotels so i could sleep, cos i ended up being unable to function from the tiredness.
I told this story to show that noise is a major problem, there are some laws about it, the laws are flouted when there's money to be made, but there are also attempts to uphold the law, sometimes from surprising places.
Ken Harvey, Lived in China.
Anticipating hate mail, let me just say that I am a pretty big fan of China, generally speaking. But there is no shortage of things to get upset about in China. For me, however, one thing stands out, since it is a lot more in-your-face and unavoidable, at least for me. This is one of those things that I probably wouldn't have said anything about, but the post below (about the hair dryer) reminds me about what is for me, hands down, the most annoying thing about China:
Men who constantly loudly clear their throats, hack up mucous, and (presumably) spit in the locker room shower.
This behavior is both atrocious, and apparently ubiquitous. I am certainly not saying that every Chinese man does this or even most, but every gym or club I have been to that is frequented by Mainland Chinese apparently has, at every hour the gym locker room is open, some guy hacking and spitting in the background. It does not matter how expensive the club is, or where it is located (I currently live in the US on the West Coast) - there are an endless supply of these guys. Since some of these clubs are pricey, it doesn't seem to be a 'class' issue. While of course I have no idea what goes on in the women's locker rooms, but I can only assume that this type of behavior is acceptable, for some reason, in mainstream Chinese culture. I assume that if it were not acceptable, it wouldn't be so common. Maybe it is actually acceptable everywhere, and I am just overly sensitive. Every time I hear that lovely sound, I want to say something to the perpetrator to make a point - but don't, since it would require me to confront a naked man in the shower. I want to 'mind my own business'; but it is a pretty disturbing sound.
That's it. I would be extremely surprised if I were the only person who is bothered by this.
Sometimes, especially in rural areas like Qinghai, there is no toilet in restrooms. It makes it hard for non-Chinese, especially white people, to stay in a squatting position for several minutes. I learned that this is due to the difference of muscle structures on the leg between Asians and white people...
I am not a conventional foreigner seeing as I am Chinese myself, but I'm not a citizen of the PRC or any territory administered by it.
Being Singaporean means obviously I'm more familiar with the culture than foreigners from the west, and I know the language too.
However, I dislike the lack of manners and the lack of cleanliness here. Some adults communicate like children too, and I don't know why. Someone asked for a lighter from me by coming up to me and making these weird noises while pointing at my lighter for his cigarette. It was like he was a neanderthal, I just found it weird and rude. Too many people here communicate like that.
Tom Leadbitter, English Teacher (2007-present)
I have lived in China for about 10 years, because i married a Chinese woman and she wants to be near her family. We probably spend about 4 months a year traveling outside China.
There are many things which I find difficult to accept in China. The Sspitting and littering are terrible. Rudeness and pushing; shouting, smoking everywhere, the filthy air and poisonous tap water, nose picking…
I could go on. Generally, there is little decorum and a complete disregard for other people's convenience. Driving is a nightmare too.
Sam Filip, Bassist at Musicians (2006-present)
This is probably only 15-20% of the foreigner population but - Other foreigners that constantly complain about and criticize China.
Sure, I have a few complaints. Most of them echo what Chinese people themselves complain about, such as the environment or fake products, that's just human, but the most annoying and irritating thing is people that come to China seemingly just to make money but end up spending their time complaining about the Chinese waitstaff at a western style restaurant that can't get there order right...Chinese girls being bad in bed or why "she thinks we're dating", etc.
I get that it looks hypocritical for me to complain about people complaining, but that really is the thing that bothers me the most. People that stick around China when they seem to be miserable.
Carl Johnson, I am an American who has lived and worked in Mainland China since 2011.
I have lived in China for 5 years. At first there were many things that annoyed me. Most had to do with how people behaved in public and some of them have been mentioned here in the ansers of other people. But most of them I have grown accustomed to. It is just how the people act and it is part of their culture.
What still gets on my nerves? Drivers honking there horns! This drives me crazy! I live in a very non western city, not like Shanghai or Beijing and the use of car horns is bad. Cars will be stopped at a traffic light, a red light and there are always cars that will honk there horns. Some people just continually honk their horn as if it will somehow make the light turn green.
Drivers that just top their car in the middle of the road for no apparent reason and without regard for the cars behind them. I have even seen drivers do this on the highway. Just slow down and stop in the middle of the highway. I have even been in a taxi when the taxi driver did this because he wanted to take call on his cell phone!
Uneven sidewalks with random steps everywhere and poorly laid paving stones. Holes dug in the middle of sidewalks, or poles or trees planted in the middle of the sidewalk and other hazards. I have to walk everywhere and the sidewalks, even new ones, are horrendous. It makes walking difficult and you have to constantly pay attention. No planning at all. And I live in a part of a city that is just a few years old!
Other things I have gotten used to but the horn honking just drives me crazy!
John Cox, 11 years living in Shanghai as an entrepreneur and restauranteur
Foreigners complaining about life in China
My deepest sympathies that the maid who comes to your home 3 days a week for $20 a month shrank the $11 'Prada' sweater you love so much. Tragic. AND construction workers started at 6am this morning? Barbarians.
Drilling at 6am in the morning in the apartment next door. Especially when it's the 1-second burst every 4 minutes because that is just sneaky enough not to make me want to kill you. Or complain to another expat about it.
Taking a massive drag of a cigarette then 'hiding' it in one's palm before entering the elevator. Seriously, you aren't fooling anyone. The elevator stinks.
Rice is the last dish the waiter brings out. Everytime. How silly of me to order such an exotic item but thank you for bringing it as a dessert.
Lining up is for suckers
Cash registers and subway doors are actually tiny blackholes that suck everyone towards them.
Pushing to get on the subway while passengers are still getting off
How China doesn't produce more defensive linemen is the real mystery.
Turning off fridges in convenience stores in winter
Kind of makes sense until you try quenching your thirst with a warm beer.
Siva NS, Been working in China for 2 years.
I’ve been living in China for about 2 years now. As a foreigner, do you find things that are annoying? Yes. But do you get annoyed? You are in another country that has its way of life and style. Appreciate it for what it is. If you are annoyed, that’s your problem and not the problem with that country.
If the natives of China are annoyed with something and they continue to live with it, well then that’s their problem.
You are a guest here. Enjoy the hospitality and appreciate China for what it is. A beautiful country with wonderful people.
As a British foreigner living in china there are many things that annoy me. But I will only say two.
1.Being British I am partial to a queue every now and then. We want to buy tea and biscuits l we queue, we want to ride the train we queue. Even our buses take part and three of the same buses will arrive in a queue for us to ride. But here in China, queues are like mythical beasts. People don't queue as a general rule. They want to ride the tube (metro for those who are American) people fight, you want to get on the bus you fight. Basically as you wait for the bus/tube or public transport you prepare, you size up your enemies. Man, woman, child, granny it doesn't matter. They are all enemies now. The tube arrives and the free-for-all starts. You against the man, against the woman, against the child and especially against the granny. And all of you against those getting off the vehicle. You fight to get on and then, if you're lucky, you fight to get a seat. This is the way it is.
2.Now another peeve of mine is spitting in public or on public transport. But that's not what I'm going to talk to you today. Instead its answering natures call in public. Ok so first let me just say this isn't adults so I guess it could be worse I am in fact talking about the kids. We've all been a kid once and reaaaaaally had to go so our parent may have taken us to a discreet place to “relieve” ourself. So I understand it happens but the thing that happens in China that I dislike is that this happens openly and doesn't seem to be frowned upon. There has been twice in the recent weeks when I have been having a sneaky McDonald's in the resuraunt, eating my food, when I kid with his parents watching will start peeing outside. The first time I was annoyed because the parents then came inside and ordered food. The second time I was more annoyed because the parents came from inside to the outside to perform this exhibitionist water show. The McDonald's has a toilet.
These are two of the many things that annoy me in China. But all in all I do enjoy it here and the people I have met. I will definitely be staying for quite a few more years.
Ray Williams, lives in China (2014-present)
Before I get any hate mail from Chinese people, please go read my other articles where I write lovely wonderful things about China. Just like no person is perfect, neither is any country.
Gone and read how much I love China? Okay good. Keep that in mind.
1.Lack of consideration People in public spaces absolutely do not care about each other. Even if there is clearly plenty of space people will push and shove to be the first onto the bus/subway/ticket queue. For some reason every single person thinks their time is more important than every other person’s. You haven’t been bruised until a boney old Chinese lady elbows you in the kidney to be first in the checkout line.
2.Unhygienic behavior Spitting I have been spit on three times since moving here. They did not do it on purpose, but because people are constantly coughing up phlegm and spitting it out. From moving cars, in the street, in the mall, even in a hospital. Waste I have walked past my school and frequently seen grown men with their pants down pooing by the side of the building. Babies are given complete freedom to pee and poo wherever they like. I have seen grandmothers hold an empty water bottle up to a child’s penis and let them piss in it, in the middle of my classroom. Even putting aside my disgust for this, it makes the environment unsafe for everyone and increases the spread of disease. I live in a fairly large modern city and this is still not an uncommon occurrence.
3.Invasiveness Many people feel that they can ask foreigners completely inappropriate questions. In general Chinese people feel more comfortable with personal questions anyways, but the line gets crossed very frequently. Taxi drivers are notorious for this.
4.Chinese “friends” I have a solid group of Chinese friends I love and am very close to. If you move to China I highly recommend getting outside of the foreigner circle and getting to know locals. However, I am approached at least once a week in person, and multiple times a week online by people who say they, “want to make friends with you so you can teach me English!” Teaching English is my job. If I find out you are a chef is it okay for me to say “I want to be friends with you so you can come cook me dinner!”? No, of course not.
5.Company culture Nothing is actually anyone’s responsibility unless it is explicitly handed to them by a superior. When I was the sole teacher at a school that had somehow managed to not order ANY books for several classes I made the decision to change those classes to SAT prep since that was the only material we had. The Chinese staff was stunned. The owner of the school was in another country and refused to tell us when we would get books. What the hell was I supposed to do? Have the kids stare at a wall until she decided to care enough to send books? Initiative is very low in company culture.
6.Stubborn Cultural Ignorance People here refuse to believe the things I tell them about my country. People refuse to believe that no one “looks American” because Americans literally originate from every corner of the globe. People have told me that black people can’t be Americans, while we had an African American president. I could give a million examples but I don’t understand why so many people think they understand other countries when the only information they have is their own opinion.
1.Pollution. It sucks. It sucks a lot.
1.Chinese food is delicious, so so yum. But 90% of it is literally swimming in oil. The oil is infused with different spices and peppers and gives it an amazing flavor. But it is so so unhealthy. Food that is cooked at home obviously is very different.
1.Using the internet in China is a major pain unless it’s a Chinese website. I’m pretty sure they just blocked Pinterest and I’m pretty peeved about it. Bing sucks as a search engine and VPNs are dropping like daisies around here so I don’t want to drop a hundred bucks on something that’ll die on me 75% of the time.
2.Entertainment. There are some brilliant Chinese directors, Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, Huang Zoulin, all fantastic. But China needs to get some new ideas. Every movie I see is just regurgitated plot drivel. And the TV shows are just so… so bad. They pretty much all fall into 5 categories. Japan invades China and China kicks Japan’s ass. “Bitch of the palace” a bunch of concubines try and kill each other off to get to the emperor. Singing/talent competition. Love triangle/pentagon. Thinly veiled propaganda story about China circa 1950–1970.
Ah, catharsis. Please no hateful comments.