This week, instead of hitting up the beloved Sanlitun Village, bloggers at The World of Chinese solicited foreigners’ opinions in Wudaokou (五道口Wǔdàokǒ) area. Located on line 13 in northwest Beijing, it is home to the hippest (and cheapest) bars, coffee shops and Korean restaurants. Unlike some of the more high-end aspects of Sanlitun, Wudaokou has a unique small-town feel, especially because the area mostly consisted of hutongs until 2001. Today, it is a thriving community for many expats, college students and Google’s headquarters.
What was your “welcome to China” moment? / What surprised you most about China?
Raha, Iran, 25 (in China to study): “Nothing surprised me.”
David, Canada, 24 (in China to study): “Oh my God, so many things… It’s so crowded, big country with lots of people. Food’s different, good food. I’m a student, so I knew I was in China when I was in class. Here I have it everyday, so it’s different.” [At end of interview] “Also, you can add this… ‘I knew I was in China when…’ It’s a totally different culture. People started to spit everywhere. The people driving here are crazy.”
Anonymous female, Holland: “The way people behave, well, the negative part of it. How they get along with each other.”
What’s the best way to meet people here?
David: “La Bamba! And school”
Paula, USA, 20 (in China to study): “Well, the Bridge Café . . . is a very good way to meet expats, I’m here sometimes over the weekends like on Sunday mornings . . . you’ll see other waiguoren and they’ll start conversations with you because you also have a weird-looking face. Or Chinese people talk to me here. ”
Richard, USA, 37 (in China to study): “I met some people on-campus just chatting in the cafeteria. . . . I also have a [host] family. [And] I just hung up posters. Sometimes, I’m more willing to pay someone to speak Chinese to me, rather than doing an exchange. I’ve got a few offers so far. . . . I play basketball with some people . . . so sports are an obvious way, and basketball is so popular here.”
What do you think about the violence against chengguan?
Brett, USA, 34 (in China for work): “I don’t know who the chengguan is.”
Female-Holand: “I see different things on the internet. China’s very negative towards foreigners. So far I have not experienced it myself. It makes me not have too much of an opinion on it.”
Paula: “This is actually the first time hearing about it, and it’s sad, but it honestly doesn’t surprise me. This is gonna sound really horrible, but frankly I feel like, in the United States . . . there’s police violence and sometimes misconduct problems, but they always have to answer to it because individual rights are stressed so much. The media will get a hold of it and talk about it. . . . But in China, it kinda feels like, well, there’s a couple million more of you where you came from, so one person doesn’t matter that much, and it’s sad.”