What Is The Truth In China?

Photo by Life is a wonder

Those of you who like to complain as much as we Finnish people do, here’s a interesting story for you. It happened last Tuesday when a two exchange students, a married couple, were leaving the dorm and heading to the railway station.

When they first arrived to Guangzhou and to that dorm for foreign students, they paid a deposit of 1000 yuan. They also paid for their stay until 20th because the ladies in the dorm office refused to let them pay only until 14th which was the day of their leaving. First the office ladies didn’t want to give back the deposit money and my friends had to make a call to the university office and Teacher X answered the phone. Few phone calls later dorm ladies accepted to give back the money. But that was only the beginning.

Then the couple wanted to get back the extra 1030 yuan they have paid for their rooms. Teacher X had promised them face to face that their rent is 30 yuan per room per day. That would make the total of 5520 yuan in 3 months when they had two rooms. But for some reason the university had sent the dorm a document that said the students should pay 6550 yuan in total.

Soon all of us, the couple and we friends helping them, found out that spoken words don’t matter at all in China. The only truth is what is written on a paper with a stamp on it! Of course my friends didn’t approve it because they were promised a smaller rent by Teacher X. So they called her again and in the phone she promised to tell the dorm office ladies to give back the money. But while handing the phone to the ladies Teacher X hung up! This happened few times and we were all screaming to the dorm ladies, to each other and wishing that Teacher X would run as far as she could, because she really wouldn’t want to meet us.

After few calls we found out that Teacher X had to ask a permission from the Dean of university. My friends got really worried because they were already supposed to be on their way to the railway station. But how could they just forget more than 100 euros?

Lots of swear words were used in every language we knew. We understood that it wasn’t the dorm office ladies fault but their attitude wasn’t helping the situation at all. Their faces told it all: We don’t give a **** what happens to you. Everyone was just sifting the responsibility to someone else.

After almost two hours later Teacher X finally told the dorm office to give the money back. The lady already had the money in her hands but she was hesitating. At least four of us were telling her that just give the money right now. Finally she did so and the couple hurried to the taxi waiting for them and are now happily back to Finland.

Is there any way to stay calm in that kind of situation? Because in my experience if you play nice, you get nothing here in China. If you believe what people are saying to you, you always pay too much for cheap stuff, you can’t send Christmas gifts to Finland or you lose money. I don’t like losing my temper and many times I regret it afterwards. But sometimes there just isn’t any other way to do it if you’re not ready to lose a lot of money.