A Cheese Pizza Order — Rachel

I must say it has taken a full year of being in China and studying the language to get to know this amazing culture around me. During our first year here I discovered a new culture completely different from the one I grew up with. My senses have been exposed to fascinating sights, unusual smells (often not too pleasant), diverse sounds, and distinctive tastes. The language is different, the food is different, their actions and expectations are different,  and it all mixes into an unknown culture.   I want to share with you observation I’ve had.Because Chinese people think differently from me, I’ve learned to think “inside” their box. One thing that can be difficult to do here is to change, such as a restaurant order. We’ve encountered this many times.  If we attempt to ask for an item not on the menu, problems arise. The Chinese are not very flexible to change. One day when we went out to eat pizza, we found all sorts of strange types, like shrimp or octopus, and the menu lacked the standard cheese pizza, if you can believe that!  Now the problem arises. We tried to ask for a plain, cheese pizza, but the waiter said “mei you” which means “we don’t have.”  So now we have to get creative. We search the menu for the closest thing to a cheese pizza we can find, that being an onion pizza. Mom asked the waiter for an onion pizza with no onions, so that we could get a plain cheese pizza, and the waiter was baffled. He obviously had never heard of such a thing and he told us that he didn’t think the chef was capable of doing something like that. In the end the waiter was a little upset, and the chef totally confused, but we did get our plain cheese pizza, even though it had caused a bit of a commotion! TheChinese mostly see things as black and white, and they can’t think “outside” of the box. So I have learned to be patient, flexible and to think “inside” their box.

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