Going abroad can be tough. Trivial daily errands become most challenging. This holds especially for China. Most Chinese wouldn’t understand English, intercultural barriers are high and major Apps would process Mandarin only. When I arrived in Qingdao that was the exact mess I found myself in. How to get to 是老人海滩 (Shilaoren Beach) when Google Maps is no help? How to convince the guard when having forgotten your elevator card? Or – and this has proved the most tedious challenge:
“How to figure out prices at a food store?”
At street markets, groceries and 7-Elevens (common mini market) you find many prices, however, you might have a hard time comprehending what for. Since sub-communication in the West and China differ quite a lot, it will turn out helpful to know some basics.
The other day I saw this package of avocados which I found luring selling at 9,80 Yuan.
To my disappointment, it turned out to be the per piece price – indicated by个 (gè). Anyways, I happened to find something better. See this box with (five) passion fruits? I got them for eleven Yuan per盒 (hé) case only.
At groceries you would often find loose fruit such as bananas, potatoes, Chinese dates (枣) to be priced per斤 (jīn) half a kilo. Two 斤 add up to a 公斤 (gōngjīn) kilo which in turn equals a thousand 克 (kè) gram. Knowing these units will help you through most situations. However, there are many more. Just think of English equivalents such as a box, bunch, jar, bundle, pound, bottle or a loaf.
As for me, I was swamped trying to grasp the representative measure of below mandarins. Leave a comment below, if you happen to know! : )
Otherwise, learn all the relevant food units at our Chinese language school! You don’t want to lose your face in China standing at the checkout overwhelmed by the total. Are you in China already? Step out there, tackle it, impress with unit vocab! Reality remains the best place to practice Chinese.
Actually, assimilating to Qingdao wasn’t that tough after all. I was fortunate – XMandarin Chinese Language School helped me get an accommodation, a phone number and even launched a bank account to be connected to WeChat – all that, just after I had landed at Qingdao Airport.
When I was in Portugal on a term abroad, I managed things using English. This is the sad story of how I didn’t learn Portuguese. Don’t be like this! And by the way, when you study in China, you can’t.
Also, read this on how to (not) get lost in Qingdao.