5 Things That Have Surpised me in China






1. Pre-landing exercises?

On my way to Xi’an last weekend, I took a cheap 2-hour flight with Spring AIrlines. Before landing, a man with a British accent came over the speakers and said,’Are you feeling tired? How about some pre-landing exercises?’ Immediately the flight attendents fell into line in the aisle and started leading the entire plane in a sequence of head roles, wrist exercises, and leg massages. I could see people’s heads and arms bobbing in unision all along the plane. It was probably one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen! 

2. Table for One

Coming from a big university like UMD, I’ve used to going to the diner with 5 or more friends at a time. The UMD tables are always large enough for big groups and it’s strange to see people sitting alone if they aren’t in the corner of the diner or doing homework. But this is definitely not the case at ENCU. I would guess that every time I have visited the cafeteria, over half of the 4-seater tables have been occupied by single individuals or two people sitting in opposite corners doing their own thing. And, unlike in America, these loners weren’t neccessarily doing work–they were just eating alone. 

3. The Shower Situation

While I’m being pampered with hot water and showerheads in the International Student dorm, I couldn’t help but notice the hoards of students dressed in pajamas and carrying their shower caddies walking around campus every evening. I asked my Chinese roommate, and she said there are no showers in the Chinese dorms, and that students have to walk to communal showers that are behind every cafeteria. These showers are only open from 2pm-9pm, and have no individual stalls or dividers. My roommate said she really hated showering there and is much happier using the International Dorm’s facilities. 

4. Even Monks get upgrades

While hiking Huashan (one of the 5 sacred Taoist mountains) this past weekend, I was delighted to find a bunch of pagodas and temples lining the path. About half way up the mountain, we passed a monk walking up the mountain. We did the awkward we-pass-him, he-passes-us thing for a few minutes before I turned around and saw him whip out a Samsung Galaxy phone! I guess no one can live completely apart fro 21st century gadgets :) 

5. Time to get Dressed.

I and some of the other American students living on the Chinese Roommate floor have noticed that our roommates change clothes under the sheets every evening and morning, and that they are all carrying buckets of water to the sinks to wash clothes every morning.  My friend even swore her roommate wore the same outfit for a week. I’m not sure what is up with this, especially the changing under the sheets, but maybe I’ll give it a try.