Nǐ haǒ. The Frau has returned from the Far East where she spent two weeks running around the People’s Republic of China. (For those who are wondering, no, Baby M did not add a sixth country to her life list, rather she had her own vacation zu Hause with her American Grandma while American Grandma went through her own version of Swiss culture shock in the process—very nice hiking trails, but too much cigarette smoke and pushy people was Grandma’s final verdict on Switzerland).
In many ways, Beijing is Zurich’s opposite (especially in pedestrian safety, air quality, and the price of public transportation—only 20 cents for a bus ride in Beijing). But in other ways, Switzerland couldn’t have prepared the Frau any better for China. Below are five ways you’ll feel at home in China if you’re living as a foreigner in Switzerland.
One: The language barrier won’t bother you.
What’s a little Mandarin when you’ve been trying to comprehend Swiss German? If you’re used to tuning out foreign languages and already feeling like a fish out of water, not understanding anything in China will be no big deal.
Two: You’ll be used to people having no concept of a line.
The Frau lost track of the number of Chinese people who cut in front of her when buying metro tickets or at security checkpoints. But this was no different than having Swiss people barging in front of her at the cheese counter or at a Swiss McDonald’s—even when she was pregnant, no less. Therefore, when being passed up in China, the Frau just sighed in recognition of something Americans call politeness and the rest of the world calls passiveness.
Three: When people push and shove on public transport, you’ll push right back.
|Foreigners are often treated as walking ATMs in China|
Four: You’ll have your cash ready.
Like in Switzerland, credit cards are not commonly accepted in China, so be prepared to carry cash—lots of it, since you’ll probably end up paying the “foreigner price.”
Five: You’ll be used to being treated as a foreigner.
Unlike in Switzerland, your appearance in China will probably scream foreigner before you even open your mouth. But in some ways this makes it easier because you don’t have to decide whether to give yourself away or not. The Frau proudly wore her camera around her neck since there was no disguising who she was.
How does living abroad affect how you travel to new countries?