by Sandra Tritscher

Four months living on the other side of the world in Shanghai. For me. it was a very intense, interesting and amazing adventure. However, moving to another country you have never been before is a tough task. Especially in the first days and weeks I definitely had a so-called culture shock. You ask why? Well let’s start from the beginning by arriving at the airport. You went out of the plane and the first things you see at the airport were signs you haven’t seen before. It‘s like being an analphabet – you can‘t read or understand anything. Somehow a very weird situation. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. When talking about culture shock we also need to talk about customs and manners which are totally new for you. For example, when we walked to the university, it was sometimes pretty hard not to have an accident, because especially scooter drivers most of the time drive like they want, also when there are red lights. These were challenging situations to handle as traffic is totally different in China. Also, using the metro was some kind of an adventure. Seriously, try to avoid rush hour! It‘s not like in Austria or Germany – when the train or bus is crowded with people, you maybe take the next one. Not in China. Here, everybody just tries to get into the train and push you into the crowd.

When we talk about culture shock in China, we also have to focus on different behavior, which is sometimes very weird for us. For example, the very intense spitting on the floor or in baskets or slurping during eating is common in China. For me, it was especially in the first weeks very difficult to handle these noises as in Austria or Germany such behavior is not usual.

You don‘t understand anything, hear noises or smell things you haven‘t ever heard or smelled before and you have major problems with the public transportation commons – yeah I think we all had a culture shock, however, after four months you can handle some things respectively you are able to live with them (more or less). In the end, we lived with our culture shock and it was an experience we will never forget. I think it will also be a positive aspect for our future by preparing us for similar situations.

Ok and now let‘s get prepared for the next shock – the culture shock of returning home!