Last month, I visited China with my 17 year old daughter. Some of the questions and comments she made reminded me that, after visiting China for nearly 30 years, the cultural differences didn't faze me anymore. Some of her comments included:
"Why do they beep their horns so much?"
In China, horns are going off constantly. They drive in a tight, often chaotic formation; when they're honking their horns it's often meant to be a polite "I'm next to you, please don't hit me." (There were several instances when our host would drive dead center on the lane markers, sandwiching us tightly between two cars in either lane next to us.) Whereas in the U.S., if someone honks it can sometimes be, "Hey you @#$$! What are you doing!!" Our culture's high strung "I'll get offended and sue you if you look at me the wrong way" has made us defensive when it comes to using the horn for a safety measure.
"They're invading my personal bubble."
In a country of 1.3 billion people, all rights to a personal bubble are forfeited. Pushing past other people in an airplane who are taking their time loading their luggage in an overhead bin, or tightly crowding others while waiting in line are a part of the game. At one point while we were about to enter a line for China customs to check us through, I told my daughter, "Get ready to charge forward." She looked at me like I was nuts, then saw what I meant, as Chinese mainlanders quickly filled in the gaps in front of her. It's not that they're being rude, it's just that it's survival of the fittest in a nation that has four times our population.
"That was gross."
Many of their public facilities offer restrooms that are little more than a hole in the ground. Enough said about that one.