Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What Expats Don't Understand about Shenzhen?

I read this interesting report on Southern Metropolis Daily(2009-11-7). It covered 10 foreigners who already stayed in Shenzhen for some time. They encountered quite a few incomprehensible circumstances here and finally they couldn't help but bringing up many questions which even confused me. I picked out some questions and translated them into English.

Some of those questions somewhat show that they are lacking of common sense for living in China. Yet I have to admit that I feel confused in my city too. By Shenzhen, I reckon they actually mean China, because all these issues don't happen merely in Shenzhen but the whole country. People from outside of Shenzhen share the same characteristics, not to mention that most residents here are not native.

Sorry if this translation is rough, I did it within an hour.^^

Brad, American, 40, designer, here for 9 years
1. He doesn't understand why people drive without licences but with perfect assurance.

2. He doesn't understand why young people still throw plastic lunch boxes out of their car windows while there are so many environment-friendly texts in books.

3. He doesn't understand why he was asked about age, job and relationship status by total strangers even when he was on a bus.

4. He doesn't understand why people bought apartments and waited them to be revalued instead of moving in there.

5. He doesn't understand why students study hard in high school but totally unwind in college. Things are just opposite in America.

6. He doesn't understand why people are so clamorous in public. Europeans think Americans are loud, but comparing to people in Shenzhen, we're fairly quiet.

7. He doesn't understand why people often whine about the air condition in Shenzhen. It's much better than it in Hong Kong.

8. He doesn't understand why people are fond of getting some weird English names. Those names sound more like pizza shops or bistros.

Christian Buggelsheim, Austrian, 36, Hotel Manager, here for 3 years
1. He doesn't understand why business partners always drink Baijiu, nay, they tank it.

2. He doesn't understand why people fancy eating animals' organs. Everytime they ordered those spooky chicken paws, I got goose bumps.

3. He doesn't understand why Chinese can't understand his Mandarin. When he attended some social events with his girlfriend, he felt like an invisible person. They speaks too fast for me to catch up. Shenzhen is supposed to be international, but why I only found a few people here spoke fluent English.

4. He doesn't understand why there are few people in Shenzhen riding bikes. Isn't China a kingdom of bikes?

5. He doesn't understand why people in Shenzhen want to travel in Europe or America because Shenzhen seems perfect to him. This city becomes empty at holidays.

Frederic, French, 35, Executive Chef, here for 3 years
1. He doesn't understand why people can just drink or roll bones in a bar for hours.

2. He doesn't understand why there're so many bars in Shenzhen but only a few of them are worth going. Bars are full around 10 p.m.but get empty around 2 a.m..

3. He doesn't understand why people complain that "I paid that much but only got this little French food." Quantity plays a more important role here.

4. He doesn't understand why people go to a French restaurant but order American salad. They don't know "Bon Appetit" is French, do they?

5. He doesn't understand why chefs don't get enough respect in China. In Europe, chefs are appreciated as movie stars.

Daniel, American, 42, Electronic Industry, here for 2 years
1. He doesn't understand why people cough without covering their mounths and spit all the time.

2. He doesn't understand why women in Shenzhen are so realistic that they love you after knowing whether you own an apartment or a car.

3. He doesn't understand why some electric appliance are so expensive here. A toast machine costs you 9.9 dollars in America but costs 400 RMB here.

4. He doesn't understand why house price is so high here while rent so cheap.

5. He doesn't understand why can't he get clothes of his size, even when he choose the XXXL ones.

Mark, American, 59, Singer and English teacher, here for 10 years
1. He doesn't understand why foreigners in Shenzhen barely know Chinese culture or Chinese people.

2. He doesn't understand why some Chinese people say they don't love China.

3. He doesn't understand why "pig ears" can be food because he thinks they're nasty.

4. He doesn't understand why China changes so fast and is not easy to catch up with.

5. He doesn't understand why Chinese people put their family at the first place but he likes this value.

Karl, American, 40, professor, here for 3 months
1. He doesn't understand why the cable and the TV remotes ares so complicated.

2. He doesn't understand those English in textbooks is confusing and is like translated by machine.
3 He doesn't understand why children live with their parents and parents have to look after children's children.

Sun Seungkai, Korean, 32, Manager, here for 4 years
1. He doesn't understand why girls cover their beautiful legs with tights, even in Summer.

2. He doesn't understand why people don't like wearing hats, even if their hair is a mess, even they're bold. In Korea, almost everyone wear hats.

3. He doesn't understand why taxi drivers always argue with passengers.

Sakura Takumi, Japanese, 42, board chairman, here for 9 months
1. He doesn't understand why people randomly spit and litter.
2. He doesn't understand why people jump the red light and jump the queue

3. He doesn't understand why people are constantly late for anything and what's worse is, they tell you "I'll be there soon" but it still needs half an hour.

4. He doesn't understandwhy Shenzhe is near the sea but people are more fond of going to mountains.

5. He doesn't understand why people are socasual in public. "Everytime I went back to Japan, I felt stressed out because I was not allow to take phone calls on subway or bus, even with your earphone. But in Shenzhen, people talk on the phone even on formal occasions.

In addition, the following cartoon is from a Canadian. Let's see what he's trying to tell us.

1. There're many disabled people kotowing on the streets of downtown.

2. But they're just faking it.Their heads don't reach the ground. Their hair is long so it's hard to tell. And in fact, even they reach the ground, you can't hear anything either.

3. The main activity you can do is shopping, but what's odd is that there're only expensive name brands and high-class products. It's easy to get a 'Rolex' but it's very hard to get ordinary stuff.

4. It took me 3 days to find a knife in a supermarket.

Ringing a bell now?^^ hehe, It reminds me of another translation I post some time ago, "Chinese people? Incomprehensible!".  If you're also an expat in Shenzhen or in China, I'd like to know what do you find incomprehensible.


Anonymous said...

I agree with the French chef.

The rest are a bunch of whiners though. Many of those comments can be applied to, say, Barcelona just as easily.

SHUO said...

It's true. People could easily make much drama out of culture shock. You didn't leave your name so I have no idea what to call you.

Magnus1977 said...

WOW. Great translation and great post. It's a little old but that's ok!! I can totally use this stuff for our site! Thanks Shuo and a half!

Yann Le Berre said...

Hello Shuo,

The cartoon you're showing is a cartoon written by Guy Delisle and shows Shenzhen as he was seeing it when he came directly from Canada to Shenzhen, but it was in the late nineties! A very long time ago for Shenzhen!

Having your personal comments on each of the foreigners comments would have been nice!


SHUO said...

To [Magnus1977]

I dropped by your page for a few times. Interesting site!

To [Yann]

Yea, the news post told us the background of this catoon. It's not latest but still makes sense, hehe.

You're right about my personal comments. But I was afraid they would be quite offensive (to some nationalities), so I'd better keep it to myself.^^

Chuck said...

Shuo, Very interesting comments about what Expats don't understand. I found you on my friend Justin's blog. Your English is not rusty at all. Keep blogging and I'll stop by again.

SHUO said...

Thanks for dropping by and commenting, Chuck. I can't recall any Justin I know tho.^^

Chuck said...

Sorry Shuo. You wouldn't know him as Justin. His blog is "Son of Shenzhen Zen" We used to be reporters at the same newspaper in the U.S. He's been working as a reporter in Beijing. I visit China occasionally for my job with a US corporation, so we stay in touch. He is a real character. We haven't connected in China yet as most of my travels are to Shanghai and Dalian. Keep up the good writing Shuo.

SHUO said...

Chuck, thanks for telling. It's so cool to be a reporter and have occasion trips.^^ Thanks for your encouragement. I'm doing my best.

Gabrielle Evelyn said...

I think what you say here is not only happened in Shenzhen but also many cities in China.

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