On the Street

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Flag of China  , Jiangsu,
Monday, August 8, 2011

Walking down the street in America and doing the same in China will certainly come with very different experiences. These differences represent one of the hardest things to become accustomed to when living in China. It's not just a sanitary matter but an all over comfort matter. When walking down the street in Salem, aside from dealing with crazy hobos and a little rain, it can be a rather pleasant experience. In China you must first learn to deal with crowds of old people, speeding motorbikes, insane drivers, and street vendors.
There have been countless times when it all got too much for me and I started cursing every little inconvenience around me. By far the most annoying part of Chinese streets, and one of the most annoying parts of China as a whole is old people. There are way too many old people in China, which has an obvious cause. The one child policy completely destroyed the generation balance in China. So we are now left with an enormous population of elderly and a much smaller group of young people. While old people in America tend to stay in their houses Chinese old people opt for walking around the parks and streets. In addition to the retired population in China a large percentage of the elderly work.
Though China is supposed to be a Communist country they don't have the same kind of programs that America has for taking care of the elderly. This means many of them take to the streets selling crap in order to make some extra cash. This creates another of the problems with Chinese streets. Walking down the sidewalk you have to sometimes navigate your way around the various "shops" opened daily along any walking path. If you find yourself walking down a particularly touristy street then you will also have to deal with rather persistent salespeople.
I find that I don't have to deal with this as much as some of my friends since I take a very stern attitude towards these people. I've found that the best way to deal with these annoyances is to appear angry and give  strong no.
Aside from old people and salespeople the other big problem with walking down the street in China that is avoided in America is vehicles. Not only will motorbikes frequently drive down the sidewalk, but cars will on occasion come up. Sometimes these horrible drivers are just setting up their "shops," but it makes being a pedestrian troublesome and somewhat dangerous. You must always be paying attention to your surroundings when walking in China. At any moment a biker might cut you off. 
Though all of these problems are irritating, the worst problem with Chinese streets and probably the worst part of China is honking. Every minute I must hear 5 or 6 honks. I am personally in favor of the complete banning of horns in China. They honk and honk and it does nothing. The only honking that seems useful in China is when a driver is informing everyone else that he is doing something stupid. For instance I will frequently see drivers honking to inform the cars going the opposite direction that he is going to drive in their lane for a bit. It is complete nonsense and creates a horrible noise pollution problem.
Life as a pedestrian in China is tough, and much worse than anywhere I have ever been. That includes Knoxville where large areas don't even have sidewalks. However, it certainly makes a trip to the store a lot more interesting.  
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Megan on

Hi Zack! I haven't read all your entries yet, but it looks like your study abroad has been getting off to a good start. So, I probably should've asked for your permission first, but I posted an entry on the Chinese blog and the new LLC website (http://willamette.edu/dept/llc/) about your blog. It was Nina's idea, but I'm the one who actually posted it. I think it looks good in the slider on the new site. If you want any changes done to either entry, just shoot me an email. I'm technically not working at the LLC anymore, but I still have access for the time being. Good luck on your continuing journey!

zhihe on

It's no problem, it looks cool on the website.

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