China Expats and Culture Blog

Best Places to Visit in Taipei

Missy Broun | September 24, 2020

For Chinese expats and tourists, Taipei an exciting city that has something to offer for everyone, and you’ll be surprised how Taipei's convenient transportation system makes it easy for individuals to get around. With friendly locals, making friends is effortless even if you’re new to the city. Whether it’s day or night, you’ll definitely be able to find something new to see or do.

Elephant Mountain

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Why Chinese New Year Is The Best Holiday Ever.

Sara Lynn Hua | January 21, 2020

Chinese New Year can be referred to as 农历新年 (nóng lì xīn nián) or "Agricultural New Year", or more commonly 春节 (chūn jié) or "Spring Festival." It’s bigger than Mardi Gras. It’s bigger than the 9.3 billion-dollar Chinese holiday, Singles Day. It’s even bigger than Christmas in the U.S.

Because instead of presents, you get money.

Yes, you read that right.

红包 (hóng bāo), literally “Red Envelopes,” are ostentatiously decorated envelopes filled with money, often presented to children or single relatives by married couples. The amount inside can vary, but many may choose to incorporate the lucky number 8. For example, 288 yuan. Amounts never contain the number 4 due to the phonetic similarity of the word to 死, or “to die.”

Related: Lucky and Unlucky Numbers in China

拜年 (bài nián) is the term “to wish [someone] a happy new year.” Many younger children will be taught to “磕头 (kē tóu) ”, or bow before elders as a sign of respect. 磕头 specifically refers to “touching the head,” which means the children will often touch their forehead to the ground in front of their elders. After doing so, they may receive their 红包.

A child demonstrating "磕头" for a red envelope.

 Chinese New Year is about more than receiving “红包”, however. This 5,000-year-old celebration is a time for families to reunite, eat, drink and make merry. Common traditions include setting firecrackers and hanging red decorations.

These traditions have their roots in mythology. It was believed that “Nian” (the word for Year) was a giant monster that would devour livestock, crops and even children. The villagers soon learned that Nian was afraid of the color red, and of loud noises. To protect themselves, they hung red paper cutouts on the houses and lit firecrackers to scare it away.

Check out some of the current traditions below:

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Chinese Education System VS. U.S Education System

Angela Fang | December 21, 2019

Education may be one of the most influential forces in society today. A good education that nurtures intellect and curiosity can impact children as soon as they step into the classroom. With the world’s largest population, China provides its citizens a diverse school system: public schools for students of all ages, specialized schools for the disabled, private schools and vocational schools among the many other institutions for education.

However, since it’s created under the influence of a fundamentally different culture, some structural aspects of China’s education system may seem strange to outsiders.

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How Is Christmas Celebrated In China?

Patrick Kim | December 12, 2019

In the shopping districts of major cities across China, Christmas music can be heard starting late November. Christmas (圣诞节 Shèngdàn jié) is not a public holiday, but it is an increasingly popular diversion for young people, and the day when people tend to spend the most money shopping (although it doesn't come close to  singles day for online shopping). Chinese students who have studied abroad in the West and come back to China, or "sea turtles" (海龟 hǎiguī) as they are called, are suspected to have contributed much to the general public knowledge about this Western holiday. In recent years, a uniquely Chinese way of celebrating Christmas has emerged, egged on by brands eager to see the holiday cemented into the Chinese mainstream.  

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9 Practical Life Lessons from Sun Tzu's Art of War

Patrick Kim | December 07, 2019

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"The Art of War" remains on of the world's most famous military texts, 2,500 years after it was published by Sun Tze (孙子 Sūnzi) an adviser who probably lived during the Spring and Autumn Period (776-471 BCE). However, it is now celebrated by today's business gurus and even sports coaches as guidance for dealing with conflict of all sorts. When Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel felt threatened by the encroachment of Facebook into Snapchat's market, he gave each of his team members a copy of "The Art of War" in order to have them think in terms of ruthlessness competition. Whether it is internal or external to an organization or an individual's battles with themselves, competitors, or nature, "The Art of War" gives comprehensive advice on how to approach conflict. Let's take a look at 10 life lessons that can be taken from this broadly universal work.

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10 surprising facts you probably don’t know about Chinese schools

Pierre Cerchiaro | November 07, 2019

I spent all of my kindergarten, primary, secondary, and high school years in France. When I went to Mainland China and Taiwan for the first time for my two exchange-student years, I had the chance to meet not only a lot of local students but also many foreign students from all over the world. One thing we loved to do was to learn about each other’s culture and discover how different things can be from a country to another. Something that particularly surprised me is some anecdotes my local friends shared with me about their life at school. So I decided today to share with you 10 facts about Chinese schools that can be kind surprising for westerners.

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