Here’s a list of random things I’ve learned about China and Chinese people since moving to Ningbo:
1. Chinese people peel the skin off grapes- not for health reasons, just because they don’t like it.
2. When Chinese children say “hungry” it sounds like “hangry”. Now imagine a class of 50 fourth graders screaming “I’M HANGRY!!!” (Feed me foreigner!)
3. Chinese grocery stores don’t sell ice cream or boxes of ice cream bars… but you can buy ice cream bars individually at convenience stores?
4. The factory across the street from my school makes Wiis!! (Or at least they have a giant photo of a Wii on the front of their building)
5. The internet on my campus (including in my dorm) is censored so that I can’t download anything or go on any websites like Taobao and Youku until after 5pm unless I’m on my VPN. Apparently teachers have to download videos for class on their own time.
6. Class schedules in China change throughout the year.. A LOT. No wonder the kids stay in one room- they’d never remember where to go otherwise because their schedules change every month. (It has changed 3 times now in case you were wondering)
7. Students have to pay money to take a shower.
8. There are eight students to one dorm room (partaaay).
9. There are green oranges in China. People didn’t understand why I found this to be unusual, then I said, “Well… we call them oranges because they’re orange”. One teacher laughed so hard her hot water came out her nose.
10. Chinese people don’t drink coffee in the morning for caffeine, they drink it in the afternoons.
11. Most coffee shops don’t even open until 10am.
12. You can exchange a train ticket even after you’ve missed your train as long as you do it within two hours.
13. You shouldn’t wash your wok. Whoopsies.
14. You can make food taste somewhat like mexican food by using red lajiao peppers and cumin.
15. “It’s raining” is an appropriate excuse as to why the internet isn’t working. (But it worked during the typhoon??)
16. Chinese students don’t write anything longer than 1,000 characters (just a little over a page) in high school. They learn how to write essays in college.
17. No one has a Macbook here.. and no one knows how to use one- but everyone has an iPhone!
18. I have to give over 900 students final exams… even though their grades don’t matter and I only teach them once every other week.
19. I may be expected to sing at the end of the semester banquet…
20. I kept seeing all these kids running around that looked like college students and I couldn’t figure out who they were. They weren’t wearing the school uniform but they looked too young to be teachers. Apparently they’re “Senior 4”- kids who failed the Gaokao the first time around.
21. Vegetables in China are so cheap!! 3 kuai (50 cents) for 2 bell peppers, .75 kuai (12 cents) for a clove of garlic.
22. Chinese people can use debit cards online because the bank will give you a USB security stick that prevents people from being able to steal your bank information.
23. There’s a bus that will take me straight to downtown and only takes 45 minutes (HALLELUJAH!)
24. Cold water is bad for you
25. Meat will go bad in 3 days
26. My high school is ranked 6/10 in our district.
27. But we’re also the only high school in our district that uses “student centered learning” rather than “teacher centered learning” (a new thing they started this year- maybe it will improve our ranking?).
28. Chinese high school students may love Justin Beiber more than American high schoolers.
29. You can buy cheese on Taobao (Chinese Amazon)
30. Chinese teachers have to work from 8am-9:30pm two nights a week (3 times if they are head teachers)
31. You’re not considered a “real adult” in China until you’re married. Until then, most young people live at home and their parents have control of their income
32. Almost all of my fourth graders have had coffee before, and most liked it
33. Chinese people aren’t very concerned about wedding rings, and if they do wear one, they wear it on whatever finger they want.
That’s all I can think of for now, but I’m sure there will be a China Facts 2 in the near future. In other news, I’m going to the natural hot springs near Ningbo tomorrow!