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Q: Can foreigners truly integrate into the Chinese society after living here for years?

I arrived in Beijing only a few months ago and really want to call this place my new home. However, in the past few months I discovered big differences between Eastern and Western thoughts and behavior, and I don't know if I can fully accept the norms and behave like a local person. Big cultural shock needless to say.

I want to ask those of you who's been here longer: was it difficult for you in the beginning as well? Do you think 'getting used to' is the same thing as true 'integration'?

 

 

5 years 15 weeks ago in  Culture - Beijing

 
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I've come to have a tolerance for the local culture, but I have only lost more and more respect for it the longer that I have been here. When you've studied the cultural mindset of China, all you learn is that the benevolent excuses that you have been making for peoples' rotten behavior falls flat. When you learn the language, you understand what vacuous xenophobes are yapping about you AS YOU ARE STANDING RIGHT THERE. I've lived in three different countries at this point (Kenya, Peru, and now China)--China is the only country where I have had a bad reaction to the locals. I plan to leave next year, and never return.

I have met some wonderful and friendly people in China, but every country has wonderful and friendly people. What makes China an exceptional country is the shit.

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5 years 15 weeks ago
 
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Everyone's different. Some can do it. But most of us still find it disgusting when people let their kids pee and shit in public bins. 

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5 years 15 weeks ago
 
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I've come to have a tolerance for the local culture, but I have only lost more and more respect for it the longer that I have been here. When you've studied the cultural mindset of China, all you learn is that the benevolent excuses that you have been making for peoples' rotten behavior falls flat. When you learn the language, you understand what vacuous xenophobes are yapping about you AS YOU ARE STANDING RIGHT THERE. I've lived in three different countries at this point (Kenya, Peru, and now China)--China is the only country where I have had a bad reaction to the locals. I plan to leave next year, and never return.

I have met some wonderful and friendly people in China, but every country has wonderful and friendly people. What makes China an exceptional country is the shit.

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5 years 15 weeks ago
 
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The biggest difficulty in Beijing (or elsewhere in China) IMO is breathing acceptable 02. (Don't) wait till winter.

 

 

http://aqicn.org/?map

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5 years 15 weeks ago
 
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I call Guangdong province my home, I have some good Chinese friends over here and everything I need to live a descent life is available in my area (e.g. imported groceries, greenery, restaurants, entertainment, ...), but it's not the case everywhere, I live in a upper-end area with many very wealthy Chinese around, most places in China won't offer as many conveniences, or be as clean and modern.

 

The fact that I consider this place home does not mean that it will be forever, I might move to another country when I decide to, also I did not adopt Chinese habits such as jumping queues or spitting everywhere, I am proud of being different and when people ask me "when do you go back home?" I tell them that here is home, some get pissed because they are racists, some others are happily surprised to hear that.

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5 years 15 weeks ago
 
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no

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5 years 15 weeks ago
 
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Absolutely not. 

 

Just today I went to the bank with my wife to move American USD from her account to mine because my account is tied with PayPal. They needed a ton of documentation... including marriage certificate and other crap. Huge hassle for nothing. 

 

Yet, they gave her ALL of my account info (without my knowledge) when she went there with my passport. MY ACCOUNT with my name and not hers on it. 

 

If you think China will every truly accept you (as a foreigner) you are dreaming. 

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5 years 15 weeks ago
 
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Yes and no. It depends on exactly how integrated you mean. Will you ever be treated like a chinese person? No way. You will always be stared at and talked about. Treated differently.

But on a personal level you certainly can. You will gain local friends. Not easy to find as they usually want to show you off and practise english. But not everyone. These will becone your closest and most important friends as your foreigner friends will always seem to come and go. Youll be included in everything, not singled out. Your family life can be the same.

For 5000 years of history chinese culture isnt all that complicated. Youll learn to pass out tissues around the table without thinking, youll start passing things out with 2 hands things like that.

The area around you will adapt as well. Your local smoke shop will get comfortable and know what you want without laughing at you. The ladies at the supermarket will stop giggling. Youll feel really comfortable.

But no , as soon as you leave your bubble youll be quickly reminded that you do not belong here.

Some people are different and adapt better. Ive been here 7 years and still snap at every conceived slight towards me. I still find their habits disgusting. That never seems to get better.

I think i fight it quite well. I take alot of pride in living the same way here as i did back home. Which is not easy and probably has something to do with my lack of integration. But i have found a nice balance i think. I am content.

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5 years 15 weeks ago
 
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China is not a country of integration and cultural mix. Never was, never will be unless forced to. Like most asian countries. It's a weakness and a strength.

 

And unfortunately your staycount doesn't show on your face.

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5 years 15 weeks ago
 
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I am going to give two responses-

  

No.    (me)

 

****************

 

"Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet..."

   

      ~ Rudyard Kipling

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5 years 15 weeks ago
 
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No...but ive said this on other threads if you base your happiness on what locals do you're always gonna be pissed off.

 

you can get a decent circle though, I mean theres no reason at all why you can't be more or less comfortable, but for me I really needed to learn to just tune everyone out.

 

Can't get angry at the background can you?

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5 years 15 weeks ago
 
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I plan to spend the rest of my life here but also accept that I'll never truly integrate. I'll never be a true native speaker in Putonghua or Cantonese and never fully understand how people's minds tick here. But I'm, happy....got a lovely wife, enjoy my life her and have just enough patience to put up with the small shit that goes on around me (including the shit i had today but that's for another topic later).

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5 years 15 weeks ago
 
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i would suggest not learning the language, while i have met friends that have stayed here a long time, most of them were really disappointed and it really went downhill fast when they knew the language and what people were saying, the bubble will burst really bad when you realize their words and minds are truly worse than their actions. many foreigners have told me to keep my sanity and stay here long term, dont learn the language well. not sure if this advice has happened to others.

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5 years 15 weeks ago
 
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One can never get integrated into China. I'm a direct descendant, my father was from Shantou, Guangdong. I am still regarded as an outsider because I wasn't born here. So for a Westerner it would be quite impossible. Nevertheless, one can never get used to the obnoxious behavior of people here. But if you planned to live here long term then you need to learn how to turn a blind eye to many things. That way, you will last longer.

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5 years 15 weeks ago
 
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No, because the locals won't let that happen. They will keep moving the goal posts due to their ingrained racism, xenophobia and ethnocentrism. . .but will keep demanding you accept their way of doing things and their culture regardless.   But just as you do what they all say, they will move the goal posts and the cycle of futility continues.

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5 years 14 weeks ago
 
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Short answer: no.

Long answer: hell no.

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5 years 14 weeks ago
 
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If you speak Chinese, Yes and know how to play by the rules.

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5 years 14 weeks ago
 
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People are different. China alone, we are a country of 13 billion, with 54 ethics, spread in different geographical provinces. We have a saying that "Each place has its own way of supporting its own inhabitants." But most Chinese are hospitable, believe me. If you met bad Chinese people, you will have to try making yourself meet the good people. Forgive those bad and try more better ones. Forgive, forget and thrive, you'll always need to learn how to balance it out when living in China.  

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5 years 14 weeks ago
 
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that makes sense, DrM. As you know, China has many issues to solve, and we Chinese people have a serious trust crisis permeating in the society, especially in the mega-cities. We are a big country of 1.3 billion (thank u) and we are not sure how far the new leadership could go with all the reforms.

 

Another factor is education. High diploma does not mean better quality of a person, and vice versa (anyway, the past 3 decades have made a big impact to all of our lives).  Incomplete education plus other factors including the history of disgrace, wounds on wounds, ingrained feudal thoughts inherited from grandma's grandma, we tend to protect ourselves, turn inward, and be afraid of the world. Or hostile or militant! In one word, most of us constantly have a sense of INSECURITY. maybe that is why we received American culture so well in China? Don't know, sometimes i am lost about who I am.   (P.S. it's 56 ethics, not 54.)

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5 years 14 weeks ago
 
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They're moral cowards (as in: the morality of cowardice) who care only about themselves, and don't see how behaving this way spoils it for everybody. Smallminded, short-sighted, petty and ignorant. Even Chinese can't integrate into Chinese society, because they see it as "Too Many People Ocean". Chinese have no regard for human life, trust in others, trustworthiness, or faith in humanity. Just as they single us out, they horrendously bully eachother too. 1.3bn rats who dream of jumping ship, and 600k misfit expats who ended up here for various reasons. For the Chinese cause not to be lost, they need to believe in it themselves first. I won't hold my breath, but I have faint hope that Christianity might do more good than harm. An American invasion would be practically welcomed, but USA can't be bothered with the hassle. Nothing and nobody of value here anyway.

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5 years 14 weeks ago
 
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OK story time and this story is so relevant to the question.

 

I took a bottle of English gin to a dinner I was invited to with my Chinese wife's supervisors and offered it to the men to drink. They wouldn't drink it and bought a bottle of (expensive) bijou instead. I make it a habit not to drink bijou or maybe just one and drank beer instead.

 

One of the men wrote some Chinese into his phone and translated it into English and gave it to me. It said "a gift was offered and was spurned".

 

I could have said the same about my gift of gin but I'm too polite.

 

They just don't get it. They only see the violations to their own norms.

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5 years 14 weeks ago
 
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I was born in Hong Kong, my mother was also born in Hong Kong, I understand the culture pretty well but I certainly don't agree with quite a lot of it. Spitting, pissing in the streets, shitting on the streets, jumping cues, driving like you're on speed, breaking agreements, screwing people over the first opportunity you get, general lack of common sense and so forth. But there are also good things about this country and I love it!

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4 years 21 weeks ago
 
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You can never be truly integrated if you are not ethnically East Asian. That means people will look at you and say Laowei forever.

 

However people with Overseas Chinese, Korean or Japanese backgrounds, could if they wanted to, truly integrate, but that have to learn the language and lie about where they are really from.

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4 years 11 weeks ago
 
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Learning Chinese is a must if you want to integrate yourself to anther culture!  vice versa!

I did not stay abroad one of reasons was I felt I have never truly master English.

I am still learning!

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4 years 11 weeks ago
 
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Not in this century.

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4 years 11 weeks ago
 
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