#122: 中国人去美国前没想到的三件事

这个月我去美国出差,一起去的几个中国同事之前从来没有去过美国,所以他们对美国社会的很多方面感到非常新鲜。今天我就跟大家说说中国人去美国前没想到的三件事。

第一件事就是喝冰水。在中国人的观念中,温水最有益于身体健康,喝凉水很容易肚子疼,喝热水对食道不好。中国人喜欢喝茶,有时候宁愿喝很烫的水,也不喝冰水。而在美国餐馆吃饭,服务员一开始就会端来一大杯加冰块的水,这让我的同事们很不能接受,于是都要求换成常温的水或者热水。另外,中国人的一天三顿饭基本都是热的,有些人还喜欢吃很烫的食物,比如火锅。而美国人早餐喝的牛奶和橙汁是从冰箱里直接拿出来的,午餐和晚餐也可以吃没有加热过的三明治。所以吃凉的食物,对刚到美国的中国人来说真是一种挑战。

第二件事是穿拖鞋。中国的酒店一般都会提供一次性的拖鞋,因为中国人习惯在进入房间后换上拖鞋。如果你去中国人家里作客,主人也会邀请你在进门时换上拖鞋。原因是外面的地面很脏,换上拖鞋可以保持房间地面的干净。我的美国朋友对我说,到中国来之前他从来没有穿过拖鞋,因为美国人家里一般都铺地毯,回家后就直接踩在地毯上,没有穿拖鞋的习惯。而大多数中国人家里都铺着木地板或者地板砖,穿上拖鞋后,双脚会更温暖和舒适。所以中国人每次出差,一般都会习惯带一双轻便的拖鞋。

第三个让中国人没想到的是美国卫生间里的纸。中国很多公共场所的卫生间,比如商场、公园、加油站、医院、车站等等,是不提供厕所用纸的。所以很多中国人出门都会随身带一包纸巾。而美国的卫生间内都有厕所用纸,大部分卫生间还提供可以垫在马桶座上的纸,这让我觉得非常方便卫生。现在,中国一些比较高档的场所也会提供厕所用纸,但这种做法并没有在全国普及。有人说,要了解一个国家的发达程度,只要去厕所看看就知道了。我觉得这种说法是有一定道理的。

因为文化和社会制度的差异,中国人和美国人在生活习惯上还有很多很多的不同。但是正因为如此,旅行才会变得更加丰富有趣。如果你是生活在中国的外国朋友,欢迎留言告诉我们,来中国前你没想到的事儿。最后祝大家新年快乐!Happy New Year!

14 Comments

  • 还有一点我刚到美国时很意外的是,美国的甜食真的很甜。

  • Ray

    I can say this is pretty accurate, since I'm an American currently living in China as an English teacher and language software programmer. When I tell my students about daily American life or habits, most of them cannot comprehend the way we do things and constantly tell me all my cultural habits are bad for my health, and continue to remind me later to drink lots of warm water, etc. However, I don't think many Chinese stop to think about how we feel seeing their way of life. We don't try to change the situation, just observe quietly and go tell our foreign friends later about some "strange" thing we saw earlier. I remember when I first came to China, another American freaked out when a waiter brought him hot water. He complained and begged for ice, but got nothing and left upset. Some of us complain about trifles of not having simple luxuries like a normal, full loaf of nicely sliced bread (which I did finally find in a mall store), and it took me 4 years to find a place that sells grape jelly! Chinese can't understand why I want to eat peanut butter and 'grape' jelly sandwiches, but I can't understand why everything must be fried in lots of fattening oil and peppers all year round. In warm/hot weather it is nice to have cool food and drink, and in the winter I do tend to eat more hot food.

    The first times I got to visit Chinese homes, I walked right in and (at a time my Chinese was not as great) all I heard was a bunch of yelling, something shoes, pointing to slippers.. ok, gotcha, shoes off! This really was totally weird for me, because in the US we just run around barefoot outside and walk straight inside without using slippers (and same for wearing shoes outside and not taking them off). I remember once in the US, I came home from work (after school job) and decided I would try to be a good son and take off my shoes at the door, but then my father appeared and looked at me strange asking why I did that. He said it's unnecessary cause we vacuum and mop floors every few days. Anyway, if you happen to visit a foreigner's place in China, don't be surprised if some have no slippers for you and tell you to walk right in without taking off your shoes.

    I think if I had to choose the hardest things for me to get used to in China, they would be as follows. In the US, fireworks are mainly illegal, but in China I hear them every-single-day, and I mean near my apartment where you can feel the building shaking from it. Sometimes when I teach class they are heard randomly for 3 to 30 minutes and I have no idea why this is allowed next to a university during class hours, but I end up making my students wait it out before I can continue. I can't sleep at night when they go off, and they've become an annoying 5 am alarm clock. I even watch children playing with fireworks near the police station here and no one, not a single person, does anything to stop them. This is quite strange to me that they or anyone can freely use dangerous explosives without supervision or at least somewhere in a field, and not next to my apartment where we sleep and people walk by. Anyway, noise pollution in China seems to be much higher than the US. It makes me feel like my home or places like parks or the school a quiet place I can work and study. My students don't seem phased at all.. why is this?

    Second is how Chinese to scream and shout on their phone. At first I thought Chinese always have many troubles and need to argue them over the phone… in any place, the bus, next to you, in line, etc. After a while I started to realize they aren't angry (most the time, now I can tell cause my listening skill got better), that's just how they talk on the phone, and they don't seem to care that everyone within 30 feet can easily eaves drop in on the conversation. For Americans, we usually talk quietly on the phone, because security and privacy are important and we usually don't want anyone to know our business.

    All in all, I find that there is some give and take being in China. I lose some luxuries I had in the US, but I've gained other freedoms I didn't have in the US. #1 being that you can walk across the road –anywhere– and no one stops you for jay walking. People can do a lot of things here that we consider breaking some law in the US. The biggest advantage for me is health. Ever since I stopped driving and started having to walk –everywhere– (including up stairs) , and not to mention I climbed 11 mountains in China by foot, plus the badminton, all led to a healthier existence. Even my diet seems to have improved greatly. I did come to China in hopes to find some mysterious traditional Chinese medicine to aid my lung disease which western meds did not improve and were too expensive for me, but now I can understand what Chinese were telling me all along… health is the most important thing, besides family.

    I tend to talk too much… bad habit. Later~
    Ray

  • Carlos Enrique Hernandez

    你好!这个网络我非常喜欢, 从一开始学习汉语我使用这个网咯,教材非常有益,我学了中国的文化, 中国的社会和世界观, 我在中国住两年, 由于这些文章我知道区别中国比西方的国家,非常感谢你们贡献!!!

  • Cris

    Why I can't dowload the audio file anymore? There's no dowload link anymore, what happened?

    • 希茜 Xixi
      希茜

      Thanks for let us know. It should be ok now. Please try again :-)

  • 月亮

    有很都我没想到的事情。比如说,中国人四处吸烟。无论是酒吧还是奢华的饭馆儿,他们都会在里面吸烟。真讨厌啊!
    让我奇怪的是,甚至买普通的火车票也要带护照。在我看来,去医院看病的过程真够复杂的! 先要挂号,去看医生,然后付钱,买药,再去看医生。。。真够复杂的!
    另外,我没想到,公交车上有空调,很方便!
    让我委屈的是,外国人不能住宿所有的中国旅馆,这添我们很多麻烦。如今为止,我不了解这样的限制。

    • 希茜 Xixi
      希茜

      月亮你好!你提到的问题很值得关注。
      中国人四处吸烟这个毛病真的不好,但是这也说明政府没有建立有效的监督管理模式。如果加强管理,在禁烟的场合对吸烟的人严格执行罚款,应该就会好很多。
      在中国买火车票必须出示身份证或者护照,这其实是对乘客的保护。因为以前我们买火车票是不需要身份证的,但是这样就会有人买很多票,然后出高价卖给需要的人,这种人我们一般称为“票贩子”或者“黄牛”。所以政府就要求买票和上车的时候必须出示有效的证件,保证买票和乘车的是同一个人。
      在中国的医院看病要跑很多个窗口,挂号,付钱,取药都在不同的窗口,这是为了防止一个队伍排的太长。你也知道中国人很多,每天去看病的人也有很多,不同的窗口负责不同的事,可以有效减少在一个窗口排队的时间。而且,你不觉得不用预约直接去看病还挺方便的吗?:-)
      关于外国人不能住所有的旅馆这个问题,我去问了一下,一些特别小的私人旅馆,为了省钱,没有配备可以识别护照信息的系统。他们的系统只能识别中国大陆的身份证信息。所以他们没办法接收外国人住宿。如果你想省钱的话,可以去住经济型的酒店,比如ibis,如家,七天,汉庭等。也可以提前在网上预订,再打电话过去问问能不能让外国人住,这样就不会出现到了那才发现不能住的情况了。

  • Kaluosi

    挺有意思的题目。我还想听你下次关于这个事情写的文章。

    ¡Feliz Año Nuevo! 大家新年快乐!

    谢谢,希茜!

  • CJ

    Flashcards to help with this episode:

    http://www.memrise.com/course/503889/slow-chinese-122/

  • Flo

    大家好,
    这篇文章真引起了我的关注,原因是西方人一般来说认为来欧美国家的中国人不感到所谓的文化冲突。但是其实中国人的文化冲突很像外国人来到中国的。

    一个去中国之前没想到的方面是中国人请客吃饭的惯例。在德国朋友们一起出去吃饭喝酒时一般情况下分开付款。当然好朋友们、家人或者属于上班族的人习惯由一个人或者一家公司结账。但在中国甚至年轻人或大学生比较重视让一个人付钱。受中国文化影响的人都知道,和别人吃饭、出去及喝酒等请客是必不可少的。

    现在我也有一个想问大家的问题:我曾经询问了一些中国人,他们一起出去的时候是否每次有一个人买单。他们回答说多半是这样,但是他们偶尔要分开付。问其他朋友们时答案是一样的(北京、上海和昆明)。你们觉得这是因为不仅仅有实用上的好处(比如消费越高,付钱越多)还是中国社会轻轻地受到西方文化的影响?

    也祝你们新年快乐!Frohes neues Jahr! :D

    • 希茜 Xixi
      希茜

      Flo 你好!很高兴看到大家喜欢这篇文章。我对文化差异和文化冲突方面的问题比较感兴趣,以后会多写一些这方面的内容。

      关于你提到的请客吃饭的问题,请不请客,谁来请客,这和跟谁一起吃饭,在哪里吃饭都有很大的关系。关于请客的问题一句两句话很难解释清楚,之后我会写一篇文章放到慢速中文上,详细地讲一讲中国人对请客和送礼的理解。

      新年快乐!

      • Flo

        希茜,谢谢你,我期待听听!

  • Louise

    你们好!
    这个文章很有意思,让我们发现两个国家的区别。
    我是法国人。我们习惯的一些像美国人一样,但是一些像中国人一样。
    很多法国人常常喝冰水,但是有一些人还是喝温水。
    在家里法国人都穿拖鞋。
    在法国的公共场所的卫生间里一般有厕所用纸,但是最好随身带一包纸巾!
    新年快乐!
    Bonne année !

  • Robert Budzul
    Robert

    This month I went to America on business. Some of the my Chinese colleagues who went with me had never been to America, so when looking at American society they find it in many regards rather strange. So today I'm going to talk about three things that Chinese never expect before going to America.

    The first thing is drinking ice water. In the mind of Chinese, warm water is best for one's health. If one drinks iced water it's easy to get a stomach ache and hot water is bad for the oesophagus. Chinese like to drink tea. Sometimes they would rather drink scalding hot water than ice water. And in American restaurants the waiter will start by bringing a glass of cold water with ice in it. This was something my colleagues could not accept so all of them would then ask for it to be changed for water of normal temperature or hot water. In addition, the three meals in a day of the Chinese are basically also hot. Some people also like to eat extremely hot [temperature hot] food such as hot pot. While the milk and the orange juice that Americans eat at breakfast time are taken directly from the fridge and for lunch or tea [evening meal in my dialect of English] they might eat a sandwich which hasn't been warmed up. So for Chinese who have just arrived in America, eating cold food really is a challenge.

    The second thing is the wearing of flip-flops. In general, Chinese hotels will supply disposable flip-flops because in general Chinese like to change into flip-flops once they enter their room. If you go to a Chinese person's home as a guest, the host will ask you to change into flip-flops once you go inside. Because the ground outside is very dirty so changing into flip-flops will help keep the floor inside clean. My American friends tell me that they had never worn flip-flops before going to China because most American homes are carpeted so when they come home they just step directly on the carpet and they don't have the habit of wearing flip-flops. Most Chinese homes either have wooden flooring or tiles so wearing slippers the feet will be warmer and more comfortable. So when Chinese travel for business they generally take with them a pair of light flip-flops.

    The third thing that Chinese don't expect is the paper in American toilets. The toilets in a lot of public places in China, for example those in markets, parks, petrol stations, hospitals, stations etc., do not supply toilet paper so when Chinese leave home they often take with them a pack of tissues. But American toilets all have toilet paper and in the majority of toilets they even supply special paper to pad the toilet seat itself which leaves me feeling very convenient and hygienic. Nowadays in China, in comparatively high class establishments they will also supply toilet paper but this way of doing things in definitely not widespread througout the country. Some people say that if you want to get an idea of how far a country has advanced you just need to go to the toilets and have a look and you'll know. I think there is some truth in this.

    Because of differences in culture and society, Chinese and Americans still have many differences in daily living habits. But exactly for this reason travel becomes even more richly interesting. If you are a foreigner living in China you are welcome to leave a message detailing things you didn't think of before coming to China. And finally a happy new year to everyone.

    [Some parts are rather awkward. Also I've gone with the word flip-flops though in English some of the flip-flips will look more like slippers and some like sandals.]