Not For All The Tea In China

A blog describing the idiosyncracies of working and teaching in China and life on a day to day basis. With stories of unbelievable stupidity and outright ripping off of foreigners.



Saturday, February 02, 2008

Give me your phone number!


Obviously there are many culture differences, between western countries and China. But one little difference worth mentioning is the giving of phone numbers. Now in most western countries we wait a while before asking for a persons number, but not so in China, you can have just met the person and within five minutes they may ask you for your number, and it's considered a little bit rude if you refuse!


The reasons are quite simple, in China creating social connections that may help you in the future is considered all important. And really Chinese culture does work that way, the beurocracy of the system actually makes it difficult to do things which should be simple. An example, not so much related to buerocracy, would be if I meet a doctor whilst teaching, you can be sure I will get the doctors phone number. "Why?", you may ask, well the reasons go like this: in China the healthcare system leaves a lot to be desired and also when prescribing a medicine a doctor will often prescribe the most expensive one in order to suppliment his salary with commsions. So obviously when going to a hospital it's natural to be a little worried at the very least, but if you 'know' a doctor then they will have your best interests at heart.


When I first arrived in China I made the mistake of giving my phone number to a student that had asked for it, then some days later was woken at 6:30 in the morning by another student I hadn't given my phone number to! This is a common practice, with the idea that phone numbers are public property. It's fine in some fields and not a problem, but when your an English teacher it means you can be inundated with calls to your mobile just so one of the students can practice English! Not much fun at 6:30 in the morning I can tell you!

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