China is a wonderful country to live in and visit, but it is very different from a lot of Western countries, let me give you a run down on some of the main differences, especially for me as an Australian.
China is crowded! There are literally seas of people during the weekends, during rush hour traffic jams can be bad, and taking a bus can allow you to get close and personal with lots of strangers! You can feel what a sardine must feel like, in the begining I found it tiring just walking on the street.
In China a lot of small shops allow bargaining, as a foreigner prices will probably be slightly scaled up for you, try to knock some money of the price,its expected and nobody will mind you trying. In department stores and more formal selling places however, bargaining is a no-go. It’s mainly for market places.
Most Chinese cant speak English still so do get yourself a phrase book, of course a lot of younger people have learnt English so you can always try talking slowly and politely to such people if you need help. Speaking loudly and quickly in English wont help anyone! (strange that!)
Chinese food in most restaurants is often designed for a group of people to eat together and for people to share the food, placing meals in the middle of the table and everyone digging in.
In China it is polite for people to refuse gifts, compliments, offers for coffee or snacks when visiting your home. At least the first time, so keep insisting and they’ll using accept. Also it is polite to treat people when you eat out, and it is expected that the person who makes the invitation will be paying. Dont be surprised if people try to fight over who gets to pay when you eat out, it’s considered a very polite and friendly thing to do. (Everyone wants to pay!)
Not everywhere in China do people line up, so if you stand back and wait you may be there for a long time! Just jump in the fray and get involved!