There are countries that get under your skin permanently and indelibly. To me, one of these nations is China. After spending a year in Shanghai studying Mandarin Chinese, I’ve been thinking about how much I have enjoyed my life in China and how sweet it would be to go back to the Middle Kingdom for a while. Reading the book A Geek in China has had the effect of both making me miss the country even more and realize how much it has changed.
Hectic, fast and busy, living in China can surely be overwhelming at times, but learning Chinese culture, from the traditional medicine to the diverse Chinese cuisine, visiting China’s historical places such as the UNESCO-listed Great Wall of China, understanding the importance of Mao‘s legacy in today’s politics and Confucian philosophy in today’s society, and delving into the Chinese society in its many idiosyncrasies make for a beguiling and unforgettable experience.
A Geek in China is an engaging book that will guide you through all this. Starting from the mandatory historical introduction, essential to understanding China’s current development, to switch to the complexity of the Chinese language, divided between Mandarin and Cantonese, to the local religion to the rich and old culture that touches anything from the food to the literature to the martial arts.
An intriguing chapter is the one talking about Chinese character and society, something that has always fascinated me. In order to have a smooth living in China, doing business or just get along with Chinese people, it’s very important that you acknowledge and respect their way of life and human interaction.
Reads the book: “Humility, politeness and respect are an integral part of Chinese culture, and understanding how the Chinese exhibit these traits will enable you to integrate smoothly into Chinese society.”
In your life in China, you will soon realize that personal values and the community play a pivotal role. Chinese people, Christensen writes, “find comfort in associating with a group that shares common values, goals and tastes. Getting along with others is of utmost importance in Chinese society.”
Showing respect for another person’s reputation, being careful on how to express your own opinions, giving the right time to develop a relationship or a meeting, be it personal or business, will gain you a long way in China.
You might be travelling for a vacation or living in China for work, but in order to get along and integrate into the complicated Chinese culture and society, you need to adapt to their core values. Especially if you come from a Western country, where a business is usually run in a hasty way and an individual way of life is more common.
A Geek in China is a precious and all-encompassing guide through the intricate maze of practices, manners and patterns that shape the Chinese lifestyle. By all means, read it whether you are moving to China or even only planning a business trip. You will be traveling with the right baggage of information to embark on a productive journey and learn the values of patience, community, modesty and humility.
If you are planning to travel or move to China, you might find these tips in Mandarin Chinese language useful –>>