official name: People’s Republic of China
official language: Chinese Mandarin
largest city: Shanghai (20mi)
currency: Yen Renminbi/$ (CNY)
population: 1.35 billion (?)
Wonder what I’m doing here? I came to Beijing to get fully immersed in the Chinese culture. I could give you many reasons why I chose to come here. First and foremost, I really want to learn how to speak Chinese. And being it such a different language when compared with its latin, germanic or slavic counterparts, Chinese takes an extra effort to be learnt.
I also teach English to Chinese kids. I’ve had previous experience teaching Portuguese and English. Teaching kids has proven itself a very pleasing thing, because children are always very sincere. If they don’t like your lesson, they won’t try to hide.
I came here in December, 2016. Since then, I haven’t left Beijing. I spent my 27th birthday on the Great Wall of China, to where I returned a month later. And I was here for the Lunar New Year, where they light firecrackers non-stop for at least nearly two weeks. The Chinese New Year marks the start of the spring, and the Chinese celebrate the Spring Festival with temple fairs and massive red decoration.
China is the world’s third largest country by land. It sure deserves more than a couple of weeks on holidays. I still have plenty of places to discover here: Xian, Shanghai, Nanjing and HK just to name a few. And I will share I see and think of these places in the next months.
China in Chinese
中国 – Zhongguo
Chinese people refer to their country as Zhongguo, which literally means ‘Middle Country’. It seems like a very self-centered way to see the world.
北京 – Beijing
Their capital is called Beijing, which can be translated as ‘Northern Capital’. You may now be wondering if the Chinese have a southern capital, and the answer is they did. During various dynasties, the city of Nanjing (南京) served as capital. Its name translates as ‘Southern Capital’.
上海 – Shanghai
Their largest city is called Shanghai, which literally means ‘Above the sea’.
Interesting facts about China
Eating dog isn’t something very popular
Since I got to Beijing, I’ve never seen anyone eating dog, or any food stand selling it whatsoever. I wouldn’t say I’ve walked every alley of Beijing, so I’m not making any radical statements here. What I’ve heard is that eating dog is a tradition in a village in the country, far from the urban centre.
The web is widely blocked in China. Websites and applications such as Google, Facebook and Instagram can’t be accessed without a VPN (find out what a VPN is). The word censorship is censored in China. The filter is referred to as the Great Firewall of China.
China uses 45 billion chopsticks per year. And yet, I can barely handle two. By the way, 20 million 20-year-old trees are cut down in China every year to make chopsticks.
Air pollution is a major problem in China. It affects not only China, but neighboring countries as well. In fact, the effects of the Chinese air pollution are perceived as far as in San Francisco, where 1/3 of the air pollution is reported to come from China. Moreover, air pollution in China increases snowfall in California.
China has a single timezone. The Sunrise in parts of China can be as late as 10 AM because the country joined its five time zones into a single one. This is a very remarkable fact, hence other large countries adopted multiple timezones. The continental United States has 4 timezones, and Russia has 13.
There are +40,000 characters in the Chinese language, and they are known as hanzi. An educated adult will only get to learn 5,000 of them. You need to know 900–2,000 Chinese characters to be able to read a Chinese newspaper.
October 1 is celebrated as the National Day in honor of the foundation of the P.R.China on October 1, 1949.
China has the world’s largest standing army and second-largest defense budget.
China is the world’s largest exporter and second-largest importer of goods.
Use of cannabis
The first recorded use of Marijuana was in China, over 4700 years ago. China uses cannabis as raw material for manufacturing medicine, clothes and fabrics. Yet, smoking marijuana is prohibited, and penalties are severe.
All pandas in the world are on loan from China.