Gang of Four: A Market of the Senses

Some dramatic lighting for Gang of Four in Shanghai

I’m not talking about the rulers of the Chinese Communist Party during the Cultural Revolution. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gang_of_Four). The Gang of Four I’m talking about is the late ‘70s British post-punk band.

They’ve been a favorite of ours for a while, and the album “Entertainment” is probably one of the best albums. So, when we read that they were coming to town for the 40th anniversary of “Entertainment” and playing the album in full, of course were going to go. Even if the show was a 40-minute subway ride away way up in Hongkou. Even if we had to work the next morning.

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Learning Chinese, but Still Tīng Bù Dǒng

Neon lights of Chinese characters in Shanghai, also a McDonald's sign

(click here for helpful resources to learn Chinese)

What has been the most difficult thing about moving to China?

Culture shock is a real thing, of course. Every culture has its own quirks that take some getting used to. In China, people spit on the street. Sometimes kids will poop on the street. They have squat toilets. People shove in the subway. They eat frogs.

Sure, these are all different, unusual, maybe even weird to someone coming from the West. Fundamentally, though, they are all superficial. I have been pleasantly surprised with how quickly I’ve grown accustomed to all those things.

You ignore the spitting. You laugh at the kid pooping. You build up your thigh muscles for squatting, and you learn to either shove along with everyone else. Or else find the toughest old lady you can and follow her. Oh, and frog meat is actually pretty tasty.

None of those things, or any of the other superficial cultural differences, are really that difficult to adjust to if you’re able to keep an open mind.

The biggest difficulty is by far the language barrier. I swear I’m learning Chinese, but damn it, it’s hard!

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