It’s been almost 3 weeks since I left gray Copenhagen for Beijing. I never had the chance to really get to know the Chinese lifestyle before. China and its business culture is included in the curriculum of my studies and I spent a vacation in Shanghai before – but still when I got on the plane and headed towards China, I had no idea how my summer will be and what to expect. I got a scholarship for studying Chinese here in Beijing, where I will stay 5 weeks in total. And already now, I have learned about a couple of things that just amazed me and I wish Denmark would have it as well.
So let me share them with you 🙂
Insight into hygienic standard
This might sound strange but when I think of Asia, I don’t have any high expectations when it comes to clean restaurants and cafés. I was very positively surprised when my friend and I realized that many restaurants have cameras installed in the kitchen with monitors at the entrance or in other ways visible to the customers. With these, you can always catch a glimpse into the kitchen and see if it is organized and clean.
Of course, we mostly found these in middle to high prized restaurant (and to our surprise in the university’s canteen) but.. the little street food kind of shops around the corner obviously don’t have such a high standard. Also, in many places such as bakeries, bubble tea stands and again, in our cafeteria, the employees are wearing special mouth masks because of hygienic reasons. That was another surprise for us since never have seen it before in the European countries.
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I know.. I know.. some people hate how digitalized everything is nowadays but me personally: I love it! I love that you can order a taxi, pay bills, transfer money to friends, rent a bike and do thousands of other things just with your phone. I am a fan of convenience and this is just right down my alley. So when we found out that we can order with our phone at the international restaurant on our campus, we were a big fan! How it works is that every table has a different QR code.
You go in, sit down, scan the code, order the food and drinks you want, pay with the phone and then the waiter brings the food. You can order more with your phone and leave anytime you want, unrelated to the waiter or how full the restaurant is, since you already paid with your phone. We love the idea. Sadly we don’t have a Chinese bank account so we can only order from the phone of a staff member and then pay the food in cash. But it looks super cool when others in the restaurant do it 🙂
Hospitality and openness
Again no big secret that in Asian cultures, people tend to be more curious, especially if you are from another country or even in my case, look Chinese but turn out to be not Chinese at all (it blows their mind every time! The convo goes like this: “Are you Chinese” – “No I am German and Vietnamese” .. “Woah no .. but you look Chinese though, you should be Chinese” 😀 ).
The local people here want to talk to you, they want to share stories of their life or travels and they are friendly and open. Living in Scandinavia for the past 4 years, I got used to the distance and “coldness” between people at times. Therefore I am even happier to randomly start talking to people and get a glimpse into their lives and personalities before continuing with whatever I was doing before.
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Men are different
Related to the point before this, my friends and I like the way Chinese men are towards the opposite gender. I don’t recall one single time in Denmark, where a guy walks up to me on the street or at a bus stop, and just compliments me, what I was wearing, holding or doing and then just walking away, minding his own business. For me.. if a guy talks to a girl in Denmark, he is probably drunk 😀 Okay that is a bit cynical but really.. the years in Denmark made me get used to the fact that men don’t do the first step anymore (unless, again they are super drunk or lost a bet).
It is not like my female friends and I get hit on non-stop and enjoy the attention, it is more the kindness and honesty that we missed. Of course, it is nice to hear, when someone compliments you on your dress or eyelashes (yes someone was falling in love with my friend’s eyelashes and the shape of her eyebrows!).
And usually, there is no intention behind the compliments. They talk to you until you have to get off the train or the taxi comes and wish you a great time in Beijing. I wish it would be more like that in Copenhagen or Denmark in general. Sure, there are lots of Chinese people who just sit and stare at their phone as well, like everywhere in the world. But personally, I made the experiences that people randomly talk to us here more often than other places I have been with my friends.
The polite distance many Danes have is just part of their culture, but as an international and expat, it is quite difficult and sometimes, breaking this “barrier” takes a lot of time. Whereas here in Beijing, people just start talking to you and show you that there is no need for a personal barrier, it won’t hurt to get to know someone, even if it is just for a few metro stops 🙂
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Of course, China and its culture are completely different to the one I know from Denmark, Germany or Europe in general. And I think, if I reverse the article, I could write some things, that China should copy from Denmark or Europe, for example, high speed and unregulated internet. But that is not what I wanted to do and I don’t want to turn my blog into a place to rant or criticize things – I just thought these are some nice aspects that I will miss when I return to Denmark 🙂
So these are just a few things that I really thought about and truly liked, nothing against any culture because the differences are what makes traveling interesting.
You can check out my articles about what I missed from Denmark when I lived in France and what I have learned about Denmark after living there for some years 🙂 Thank you so much for reading,
I hope you liked my first experiences in Asia and follow along the next months! Have a great summer, Tuni 🙂
LET’S STAY IN TOUCH
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