China v’s USA: Observations from an outsider

After living in China for nine years a move to the US would seem to be a significant change. In some respects these countries are complete opposites. There is so much written about the major political and cultural differences of these two nations that have come to represent the East and the West, I can’t really contribute more to the conversation. However, I can make some observations on the small things.

For example, purchasing supermarket poultry. Like the time I bought a whole chicken in China. And by whole I really mean whole. The chicken came with its head and feet attached along with its insides packaged and stuffed back in! Compare this with the fowl I purchased in the US. Not surprisingly it’s head and feet were removed but so were it’s wings and legs! Far from being the “whole” chicken I expected, it was really just the body. Even in their differences they were the same, neither were what I expected!

Still on the topic of food, it would be easy to focus on the seemingly curious local delicacies in China like the sweet and sour mandarin fish (which is delicious by the way). But the US also has some weird options. Sweet potato casserole with marshmallow topping anyone?

Yes, there are differences between Chinese and Americans, but within both countries have there are significant regional differences. I would suggest that the differences between Washingtonians and Los Angelenos are as many as Beijingers and Shanghainese.

Also don’t forget they both drive on the same side of the road, a vital similarity (or is it a difference?) for those of us from Australia, the UK, etc.

And don’t get me started about Government bureaucracy. Dealing with officious, rule following, poor communicating public servants is maddeningly the same. (Although to be fair that’s probably true for government bureaucracy everywhere.)

Ultimately, despite political and cultural differences the people themselves really are the same. In both countries we found that the people were welcoming, curious about our background and reasons for moving to their country. They are friendly and genuine, caring and compassionate. They want to live and love. They want to be happy.

When it comes down to it the people really aren’t so different. Perhaps if we focus on the similarities we could find agreement?

Main image by Henrikas Mackevicius from Pixabay

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