New Family in Suzhou ? Don’t get shocked!

Expats can certainly expect to experience some degree of culture shock in China.

On first arrival to Suzhou, the human wave will probably shock you. Everywhere you go: public malls, tourist sites like Suzhou gardens, restaurants, railway stations, bus stations you will see nothing but waves and waves of people. Suzhou can be so crowded that you hardly have private space of your own once you are out of your hotel room or your apartment, special in Downtown areas like the Suzhou Shopping streets. Those moving to China may find some aspects of adjustment surprising novelties and others unexpected niceties. Either way, taking the necessary steps to prepare accordingly can alleviate some of the tension and the severity of culture shock.

Westerners are often the indiscreet focus of attention in restaurants or walking down streets. Unabated stares can grow uncomfortable and can become ostracising. There is also an obvious mark-up for products sold to foreigners which can further feelings of alienation and frustrate expats who otherwise try to be part of the community. Others can feel too much part of the community as enormous and dense crowds push and pack into public transportation or crowded sidewalks. Living in densely packed areas is often the largest cultural difference of life in China’s cities like Suzhou or Shanghai.

Another part of everyday life in China that requires some adjustment is the long queues associated with bureaucracy, from bank teller lines to waiting for hospital treatment.

When shopping, depending on the shop, it is customary to bargain for goods and the first offered price isn’t expected to be accepted. This isn’t the case in shopping malls that mirror the policies of western shopping centres.

The best way is to adjust yourself.. Keep in mind you are not in your home country. Be open for other cultures and behaviour. Find local friends talk open about it. Don’t only blame and compare with your life before.

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