While Chinese people are almost universally friendly and welcoming, it’s worth taking note of a few bits of etiquette before you go to stop them feeling uncomfortable and you looking like a berk. Plus, you’ll find people are much more welcoming if you respect their traditions, meaning you’ll have a much better trip! So, to help everyone heading out on our Teach in China Internships, we present to you a few dos and don’ts to be aware of!
- Prepare yourself for the onslaught of random people wanting to practice their English on you
- Take your shoes off when entering a Chinese home or temple
- Be respectful of people who are older than you – greet the eldest person first whenever you visit someone’s house and touch your glass below the eldest person’s when toasting
- Eat and drink whatever your host offers you (at least a tiny bit!), even if it does look a bit suspect!
- Keep your cool when dealing with officials, especially if things get a bit tense. Getting angry or raising your voice will just create a lose-lose situation
- Thank anyone who gives you a present profusely, but then set it aside to open later to avoid looking greedy
- Make political comments like ‘Mao did kill an awful lot of people didn’t he?’ unless the people you’re with take the lead. Lightheartedly remarking on the similarity between the mandarin word for ‘cat’ (‘mao’) and Chairman Mao will not win you any fans either!
- Oh, and leave the Free Tibet T-shirt behind too – unless you’re feeling very brave that is!
- Get frisky in public – PDAs are widely frowned upon
- Eat everything in sight if someone takes you out for a meal – while it’s polite to finish your meal in the West, doing so in China signals to your host that they’re stingy and haven’t bought enough food
- Write anything in red ink unless you’re marking an exam – it’s usually used for letters of protest
- Leave your chopsticks upright in your bowl or tap your bowl with them
Want to know more about life in China? Click here to download our free guide to teaching in China to find out more!