During my Sophomore year of college, my three roommates and I decided... we're going to China! One of our courses was offering a trip to either China or London in exchange for school credit. And guess what we chose... China.
As it turns out, it was one of the most eye-opening, bizarre, steamy, sweaty, claustrophobic trips I've been on. Also, probably one of the best experiences I will have ever had. To put it into perspective, imagine four basic biddies taking on 8 different cities in China with minimal adult supervision for one month. Oh yeah... and none of us knew the language.
For me, it was my first time out of the country... besides Canada. And boy did I feel out of the country when I got there. I actually felt like I was on another planet.
Besides feeling like a celeb alien, the trip was a great experience. We got to immerse our self in the culture, meet new people, and essentially live in China for a month. Needless to say, China is a whole different world from the U.S. and here are a few of the differences I picked up while I was there and some advice for future China travelers....
- Americans=Celebrities. Bring on the paparazzi! At first, it is quite flattering to feel like a true, celebrity. But, it will get old real fast. My personal breaking point was when a middle-aged Chinese woman literally threw her deaf child on my lap for a photo. It was like I was Santa Claus and my friend was Buddy the Elf! God bless celebrities who have to deal with that on the reg.
- Lines are not a real thing. You might think you're standing in line, but unless you're pushing people over and elbowing you're way to the front than you're actually not in line. This is also true for the bathrooms. If you want to go to the bathroom you must claim your stall immediately upon entering and then stand directly outside the door of the stall you'd like to use... like a mega creep.
- Bathrooms. Since this was my first time in another country I have never seen or used the whole "squatter-style" toilet. It's a good workout and quite a mess for virgin squatters. Bring t.p. everywhere you go.
- Babies and shit. Diapers do not exist in China. Instead, they have designed the oh-so chic, toddler onesie. Think crotchless panties are only for adults? Think again! These onsies have a large, gaping hole in the genital region allowing the baby to "free ball" at a young age, as well as squat and shit wherever they please!
- Learn the language. Or at least the essential words you will need to use. During my month in China, I learned 5 words: hello, thank you, fuck off, don't bother me, and beer.
- Americans suck at math. Chinese rule at math. They made this very clear when they asked us a "2nd grade" math equation that none of us could answer... not even our professor with a PhD.
- Americans are drunks. With every meal, they served us a small glass of beer... I'm talking a shot glass size of beer. This beer was supposed to "settle" our stomachs from the food we were eating (which was complete bs). As soon as that sip of beer went down our throats, the Chinese assumed we were automatically wasted, drunk, slammed and/or intoxicated.
- Pack the Pepto. You will likely experience nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea AND erotic vomiting. And lucky me... I got to indulge in all of these sexy symptoms at a monk monastery.
- Going out. China sure does know how to party! They have sick nightclubs and awesome dive bars. However, if you're looking to meet cute guys by going to an "American" bar, they're not interested. They will be preoccupied by the numerous Chinese prostitutes trolling them.
- Sneakers. Wear sneakers, comfortable sneakers, everywhere you go. Because a casual stroll in China is like an Iron Man in U.S. terms. Oh yeah... and the beautiful Great Wall of China is a treacherous and very advanced climb. Gladiator sandals are not recommended.
- Enjoy it! Your money will go very far in China and you will probably never experience anything like it. The countryside sites are like going back in time...peaceful and untouched. While the cities are majestic... like Disney World on crack.