The most culturally informative event this week was visiting the National Museum of China. Having the opportunity to explore the long history of China through multiple time periods in the second-most visited museum in the world was an unmatchable experience. The museum features exhibits detailing the prehistorical segments of Chinese history as well as more recent events such as the Chinese Communist Revolution. Pieces in these exhibits ranged from archery tools to contemporary depictions of wartime scenes. Outside of purely historical exhibits, the museum featured social exhibits as well. One exhibit recounted the life and works of Karl Marx.
Adjusting to life in Beijing has required some adjustments of my expectations. Traveling two miles in Beijing requires some more effort than traveling two miles in the United States. A destination that is a 30-minute car ride away may take upwards of an hour to travel to in Beijing using public transportation. However, this is a relatively minor roadblock to overcome. With enough planning and some patience, getting around Beijing hasn’t been a problem.
Another unfamiliar cultural paradigm in Beijing is the number of public employees. Every bus has at least one guard present. On major roads, there are dozens of janitors constantly sweeping the sidewalks and clearing the roadways of trash. There are many attendants scattered throughout subway stations, and there are dozens of guards present at the entrances and exits. In the United States, there can be a stereotype that China is a poorly maintained country ruled primarily by random chance. However, the city has several safeguards to ensure everything is followed according to plan.
Another large cultural shift has been relearning to cross the street. After nine days, I still have almost no idea how the street light system works. If the crossing light is red, it sometimes means go, and some green lights leave you in the middle of the street with cars driving left and right across the street.
Some cultural questions I would like to answer while staying in China:
How does professional communication work in Chinese companies?
How do I cross the street?
How do I negotiation in China?
Is it better to use the bus lines or the metro lines?