Hangzhou Traffic Culture Shock


This was meant to be an earlier post but I forgot to post it after typing it out on docs so I shall modify it since my ALP experience is concluding so I would have more insight and then post it here. This part I will be highlighting all the differences and problems I faced while in the next part I will be talking about how I settled them

When I first came to China, I had a rather difficult time adapting. From smaller things like being unfamiliar with going cashless to the more apparent problems like Chinese being not good enough and cultural differences when interacting. There were many things that I could not adapt to so in the first week I really questioned why I was here and wanted to go back.

Firstly, the thing that immediately struck me was traffic. It was extremely different compared to Singapore, it was a lot more hectic and haphazard I would say. Crossing roads often made my heart skip a beat when the car or motorbike drives past me really quickly or when the cars horn at each other which is a really common occurrence. Even though taking a cab there is so much cheaper as compared to Singapore, being stuck in a jam was really dreadful. Singapore has jams too but it is rather peaceful while in China, it is literally a warzone. Cars will try to overtake each other and go into lanes that they are not supposed to go. I was always on the edge of my seat whenever I am on the road in a cab.

Secondly, the way people interact was very different as compared to Singapore. In SG, sometimes I have to speak Chinese to hawkers and i sometimes even speak Chinese with my parents so I thought communication should not be a problem in China. Well, I was so wrong. On the first few days that I arrived, I already faced with problems communicating with the hostel reception and guards when I needed to make some requests for my room needs. I also had problems buying food because when I told them I wanted something, they somehow could not understand me. I think there were two main reasons for this, firstly is the difference is the way they speak chinese in terms of how they use certain slangs and speak really quickly. Secondly is the difference in culture where they tend to want to settle things really quickly and thus have less patience to hear you complete your sentence. This is not a bad thing I feel, because things are done a lot more efficiently but I just was not used to it.

Lastly, the systems are very different as well. This is a more generic point as I believe it encapsulates most of the differences there as people simply do things differently. Be it in terms of their payment system, traffic system, school system, etc, it is all very different. The pace of things there is also really quick, both figuratively and physically. How they get things done just felt very different.

But as time passed, things got a lot better as I grew accustomed to various things here and learnt how to adapt. How exactly did I do it and what I did, will be covered in my next post 🙂

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