So I have been in China for two weeks now and my language skills are progressing. I realized if I stop thinking about learning the material and instead try to experience the material the results are a lot better. I have been trying to get a further understanding of more than just the language though, even though that is the main focus of my trip.
To delve into the culture I realized I should stop thinking of China and America as things that can be compared and think of them as two separate entities. So one of the main ways I have wanted to learn the culture is through their fashion. I would have not even considered myself someone that is in to fashion back home, but in China the style is too good to pass up (not bashing American style). So due to my passion for fashion, my friends and I decided to check out the fake market. We were mentally preparing our Chinese bargaining skills in our head, but I really do not think anything could have truly prepared us.
I walked into the first store straight off the subway. It was a shoe store and I had no idea what my Chinese shoe size was. So I thought I would just pick up pairs of shoes until I found the one that fits and then figure out my Chinese shoe size. But as soon as I picked up the shoes, the saleslady came and asked me my size in Chinese.
I told her I don’t know but I wear an 8 in America. So they started to put shoes down at my feet saying that these are pretty for me, and that these are my size. I was trying to look around to find the shoes I like on my own but they were really eager to show me shoes, so I just ended up leaving. That was only the first store out of many. The other stores had people lined up right at the entrance of the store, and when you walked passed they would say things like, “Hey pretty lady, don’t you need a bag?”, “Hey girl, Northface jacket for a 100 yuan”.
But the thing is the store vendors were doing great as far as knowing the language of different customers so that they could grab a customer’s attention and get them into the store, but the vendors did not realize that a lot of the stuff they were saying was aggressive and sometimes a turn off to the store.
However, even with this communication barrier I was still able to find a sale that was really good. I also was able to get experience with getting people to bargain prices down, which was fun. The whole time I was bargaining the song “How Low” by Ludacris was playing in my mind as a theme song. It was fun practicing my Chinese and improving my communication skills but it was also very interesting to see the Chinese vendors speaking American to try and get us into the store, as well as selling the same products I could find in America.