Trying to keep an open mind

By Tabitha (
Updated: 2007-07-05 15:57

Nails screeching on a chalkboard. Teeth clinking on a fork. Slow drivers in the fast lane. These are common minor annoyances that cause extreme frustration to people in the United States.

But since I've been in China I haven't seen a chalkboard, I don't use a fork and there's no such thing as a slow driver here.

So what are the things that personally drive me mad as an American living in Beijing?

When dining out at a restaurant, nothing gets to me more than the waitresses standing over the table waiting on you to order. It makes me feel uncomfortable and rushed. I try to motion for them to leave but they keep standing there.

At the end of dinner, splitting the bill between everyone is especially troublesome when everyone only has100 yuan notes.

I think it is unacceptable to not wash your hands after using the bathroom. I have seen this many times and, considering the conditions of the bathrooms, this is difficult for me to turn a blind eye to.

Also, I really do not like traveling with five people because you always have to get two cabs. I know this is a safety issue but more than once I have seen Chinese people fit four in the back seat. As a foreigner, I feel like I get the raw end of the deal in many circumstances.

However as a westerner I always try to keep an open mind and attempt to assimilate with Chinese culture. Sometimes I am a messy eater and spit things on the table and I even find myself ignoring the formation of lines and jumping right up to the front. These are characteristics I've learned from the Chinese.

Nevertheless I don't think I will ever get used to how blunt Chinese people can be when talking about a person's appearance and how they seem to be totally oblivious to other people's personal space.


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