11 Things You Only Learn When Your Best Friend Is Chinese

This is what Chinese become after they live abroad | © KellyB. / Flickr
This is what Chinese become after they live abroad | © KellyB. / Flickr
Photo of Fran Lu
27 March 2018

It’s almost inevitable that at least some stereotypes might cloud your judgement when first meeting someone from another country. However, part of the magic of a cross-cultural friendship is that each person gets an intimate understanding of a once remote culture. Here are the 11 things you’ll learn when your best friend is Chinese.

Hot Water is a Necessity

It’s not uncommon to see a Chinese person clinging to their hot thermos in winter or asking for hot water at a restaurant – but there’s a reason for this. Chinese people drink hot water not only out of preference, but also because they believe it’s good for their health.

The Chinese enjoy their hot water | © andu02 / Pixabay

They Know Their Food

What dish is a must-try? Which restaurant is the best in your neighborhood? If you can’t decide what to get on a Chinese menu, just ask your friend for advice. Many Chinese people are born foodies.

Chinese Dishes Rule

Many people have friends from other cultures who are totally happy eating dishes from a variety of cultural cuisines. However, many Chinese believe they are born with a Chinese stomach, and they simply must eat a Chinese dish at least once a month, if not once a week. If they live in a place where it’s not easy to find good and affordable Chinese restaurants, they’ll likely learn to cook themselves.

This is what Chinese become after they live abroad | © KellyB. / Flickr

Chinese People Don’t Eat Everything

There are many news reports about the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, and some have heard that the Chinese eat lots of bizarre things. But the Dog Meat Festival is as controversial across China as it is in the rest of the world. Also, not all Chinese eat insects, either.

Chinese People Aren’t Better at Math Than You

Seriously, if you ask a Chinese friend who didn’t major in mathematics to solve a simple math problem, prepare to receive a big eye roll. Chinese people run the gamut just like anyone else. They aren’t great at any one subject just because they’re Chinese.

No way. | © Pixabay

They Might be Shy at First

Before they know a Chinese person well, many believe that the Chinese are generally shy and polite, that they don’t talk much, and they often wear a serious expression. After you get to know them, though, you might wonder where that shy person went who you once knew. Chinese people tend to be slow to warm up, especially when they’re in a situation where they aren’t speaking their native language. They might fear they won’t to fit in.

They’ll Translate Your Name Into Chinese

It’s quite tricky to choose a Chinese name because you can theoretically use any Chinese character plus various naming patterns that only a native Chinese person would know. If you have a Chinese friend, he or she will not only find the perfect characters in accordance with your English name, but they can also blend in their knowledge of the Chinese poetry.

Don’t Trust Natives To Teach You Chinese

Although many Chinese people are masters at their language, some can be quite mischievous (in a good way) with their foreign friends, and they might teach them weird or wrong translations. It’s just their sense of humor.

It’s Not a Party Without Baijiu

As much love as the Chinese have for beer and red wine, they also believe it’s not a proper party without proper Baijiu. This liquor is distilled from sorghum and rice and is generally about 50% alcohol by volume. Be sure to finish your drink completely if someone proposes a toast with Baijiu (the cup is quite small, as the Baijiu is super strong).

Baijiu | © HunagnTwuai / WikiCommons

Stickers are a Must-Learn Online Language

Chinese people use WeChat for most texting conversations. Once you’ve downloaded the app, it’s just a matter of time until you learn how much the young Chinese crowd use funny meme stickers to communicate. The characters featured include cartoon figures, animals, celebrities, and even politicians.


“Hai Nei Cun Zhi Ji, Tian Ya Ruo Bi Lin” means “A bosom friend afar brings a distant land near.” This verse is from Tang poet Wang Bo’s (649 – 676 C.E.) poem Farewell to Vice – Prefect Du Setting Out for his Official Post in Shu, which he wrote for his friend Du as he was leaving Chang’an for Sichuan Province to take office. The verse is famous in China, and many Chinese strongly believe the sentiment.

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