China is rapidly evolving with breakthrough innovations and inspiring technological advancements. The exciting transformation makes China one of the most thrilling places to be in 2021. Even with the constant developments, the authentic traditions are still entirely prevalent and remain unchanged in China today. However, as a foreigner living in Beijing, it's easy to get stuck in the comforts of life in the 21st century. There are numerous ways to seek out the wondrous Chinese culture in China. Allow us to help guide your cultural immersion with our list of top ways to immerse yourself in Chinese culture.
LEARN MORE ABOUT CHINESE FESTIVALS
One of the most exciting parts about moving to China is adapting to so many new holidays! Well, they are referred to as 'Chinese Festivals.' There are over 11 important Chinese Festivals each year. Festivals include the Chinese New Year Festival, Yuan Xiao Festival, Qingming Festival, Labor Day, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, and the National Day of China (Golden Week holiday). Each Festival is honored and celebrated in different fun ways.
ENJOY THE PEKING/ BEIJING OPERA
For an immersion into the traditional Chinese arts, get dressed and head on down to the astonishing Peking Opera! Peking Opera originates in Beijing during the Qing Dynasty. It combines music, song, speech, mime, dance, and acrobatics and is notable for the elaborate costumes and colorfully painted masks, which illustrate the performer's emotional state. There are many theaters and playhouses in Beijing to watch Peking Opera, some even foreign audience-friendly! Get to the know Peking Opera, and you will feel closer to Chinese culture.
VISIT OR LIVE IN THE HUTONGS
Hutongs are ancient narrow streets and alleyways which are formed by rows of Siheyuan traditional courtyard homes. Visiting the Hutongs in Beijing will give you insight into life in China several hundred years ago. The first Hutongs in Beijing were constructed in the Yuan Dynasty. Taking a walk down the narrow alleyways makes you feel like you've been transported back to historical Beijing. You can sense the feeling of community living when visiting the closely assembled Hutongs. It's easy to stay in the 21st century in Beijing in the year 2021. Today, you can visit Hutongs, some of which are made up of beautiful shops, cafes, and restaurants.
ENJOY A TRADITIONAL CHINESE DINNER WITH A CHINESE FAMILY
Before you can enjoy a traditional Chinese dinner with a Chinese family, you will first need to make Chinese friends and be graciously invited to their home! Making friends in China is easy if you stay open, engaged, and respectful. Chinese locals and colleagues are very welcoming to foreigners. Establishing a rapport takes some time, but before you know it, you'll have many Chinese besties. Before the big day, make sure to brush up on proper Chinese etiquette and table manners, which are essential in Chinese culture. Enjoying a traditional Chinese dinner with a Chinese family will make you feel immersed in Chinese culture.
SPEAK CHINESE WITH THE LOCALS
There is no better way to get immersed in Chinese culture than by speaking to the locals in Chinese. Of course, learning Chinese is no easy feat! But, it's still surprising how little Chinese can go a long way. Some simple exchanges with a few manageable words can create that sense of harmony and belonging. Even if the conversation is mainly filled with spaces of laughter and amusement, speaking with the locals makes for a joyous Chinese culture immersion. Perhaps you'll get more into it and continue to pick up phrases! Before you know it, you'll be ordering your next Chinese meal or asking for directions in Chinese.
TRAVEL TO A TRADITIONAL VILLAGE IN THE COUNTRY-SIDE
Take a trip to the country-side, and your Chinese culture immersion level will be at an all-time high. Roughly 45 percent of the Chinese population resides in rural China. Enjoy a break away from the booming city to take in traditional Chinese life in an ancient village. There are various towns to visit around China, which will illuminate your inner peace while taking in beautiful natural landscapes. Most of the people you will encounter definitely won't speak any English, so be prepared! You will certainly get a taste of traditional Chinese culture with the freshest culinary experiences in the country. You can uncover incredible villages practically all over China. For a starter pack, Hunan province has abundant wonderful villages to visit, like Hongcun and Xidi near the Yellow Mountains, along with Ancient Hakka villages.
TRY DIFFERENT CHINESE CUISINES
Did you know there are eight main traditional Chinese cuisines in China? Eating traditional Chinese food in China is like taking a bite out of history. You can surely immerse yourself in the Chinese culture by exploring all these fantastic cuisines and getting to know the history behind them! Each cuisine originated from a different region in China. The eight cuisines are Sichuan, Anhui, Shandong, Fujian, Jiangsu, Cantonese, Hunan, and Zhejiang cuisines. If you want to go into a full immerse mode, choose your favorite Chinese cuisine and travel to that region in China! Culture immersion level blast-off complete!
LEARN TRADITIONAL CHINESE SPORTS & ACTIVITIES
Learning traditional Chinese activities is a fantastic way to get out into the world of Beijing and make friends with locals. There are numerous traditional Chinese activities one can participate in. If you go to any park, you're bound to run into large groups of people dancing following the same choreography along-side loud, fun Chinese music. For a more zen approach, try Tai Chi in the park or practice Chinese Calligraphy. One of China's most popular pastimes is Mahjong, a tile-based game that originated during the Qing dynasty. You will see square tables set up all around town with locals playing the beloved traditional game. Some other games to adapt in China are kite flying and fan-favorite Badminton. There are so many activities to learn in China. Choose one that feels most fitting, and go out to practice with locals or friends.
TRY OUT CHINESE TRADITIONAL VALUES
Chinese traditional culture is embedded in wholesome values which everyone can benefit from. Learning and adapting to these values will make life and connecting in China that much more authentic. Some of the essential values are harmony, balance, loyalty, courtesy, and filial piety. Most of these values are drawn from the ideas and practices of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, which are commonly practiced in China. Practicing Chinese traditional values will make the space for culture immersion while growing into your best self.
Culture in China is bountiful and beautiful. There are numerous other ways to ignite your cultural immersion. Overall, it's safe that your immersion into Chinese culture will come naturally and in abundance if you stay open and curious.