Never having experienced a different country’s culture I am not sure what to expect besides experiencing total culture shock. In life, I try to be as open-minded as possible, and thrive on variety and trying new things. I can already tell I am going to be the proverbial tourist completely enamored by all the novel experiences China has to offer someone like me.
I never anticipated my first venture out of the United States would be to China, but I couldn’t be any more excited to have this experience in a country with such vast differences. My knowledge of China isn’t very in-depth, but a few things that jump out in my mind about China are their gigantic population, poor air quality, and rich cultural history. I am originally from a very small rural area outside of Tucson, and moving to Phoenix was a bit of a shock for me, even after 6 years I still have a tough time adjusting to the number of people there are everywhere. When in China I’m anticipating there to be more people than I can imagine fitting into one area. It will be a total perspective changer for me and I cannot wait.
First Time Abroad
Even though this is the first time I have been out of the country, I am more excited than I am nervous about the experience. I do have a few concerns about this trip to China: how will I remain in contact with people in the US, where is the best place to exchange currency, what should I pack, and how will I manage to communicate with other people? If you find yourself wondering about what it is like in another country I recommend doing some research. The good news is, you’re not the first American to go to another country. There are tons of blogs and vlogs on the internet which helped me answer my own questions.
Tips for Traveling in China
Don’t plan on being able to use your favorite social media apps, using Google Maps to get around, or Google at all. Fortunately, there are some ways to get around the blocks. You can use a VPN if you don’t know what that is I suggest researching it and finding one that will be reliable in China. Otherwise, there are plenty of apps you can use in lieu of the ones you are used to.
For instance, Baidu maps and Baidu translate are similar to their Google counterparts. If you want to stay in contact with others I suggest using apps like Skype, WeChat, and WhatsApp. There are also apps which give you access to metro line maps, restaurants in the area, and taxi services. I also downloaded Waygo which is an app that gives you ten free menu translations a day, and ChineseSkill has a couple of apps that help you learn Mandarin.
One more thing to consider about using apps in China is they can replace a lot of different technologies to help you save space, and give you the convenience you need while traveling. Before I leave I am loading up my phone with music, books, and apps I can use while in airplane mode. It’s going to be a long flight! I also I suggest buying a rechargeable battery pack off the internet to facilitate many consecutive hours of phone usage.
Currency in China
In regard to currency, I learned one awesome tip from a vlog I watched. If you have a Bank of America debit card then you are in luck. If you use the Construction Bank of China there will not be an ATM fee associated with withdrawing money!
Originally I hesitated on committing to wanting to go to China for several reasons, but ultimately after researching all that China has to offer, I decided this was an opportunity I could not pass up! I am not going to let trivial things like a language barrier or money stand in my way of an experience I will always remember.
 Photo Credit: http://www.hdtimelapse.net/details.php?movie_id=8050
 Photo Credit: http://schools.nycenet.edu/region10/fda/china.html