T.I.C Moments

My foreign friends told me that when something goes wrong (sometimes because of culture shock and sometimes not), they will say: T.I.C.

Later, I found out T.I.C means: This is China! They even have the expression of the “T.I.C moment” to describe the time they want to say T.I.C.

It is the most interesting term I heard today. T.I.C! Sometimes it gives me some negative feeling because it may be perceived as “Don’t complain. You should have your expectation here. This is China.”. But generally, it is still a positive thinking if you say it with the meaning that “When in Rome, Do as the Romans. Accept the difference and find some workaround…”. The topic of T.I.C. can be interesting and helpful for both people in China and foreigners to understand the differences. It is the same for me because I also have many T.I.A. (This is America) moments in U.S. and T.I.X (X may be the city I am visiting). It is normal and it is the reason we travel. Maybe when we travel, we are intentionally seeking for T.I.X moments in the destination.

T.I.C! The three letters may mean their understanding of the differences between countries/regions. It may serve as relief of anger or shock that they have nothing to do for it; or it simply means their acceptance of the reality that it is their homeland and something may not work as expected.

I believe there may be many T.I.C moments for foreigners who just arrived in China. What is your T.I.C. moment? Do you want to share some? It helps me to see the same city in a different angal I have today.

32 thoughts on “T.I.C Moments

  1. when people jump the queue in front of me, I am told “TIC”.

    when people smoking in the non-smoking areas, I am told “TIC”.

    when people shoot fire cracker into my living room during New Year, I am told “TIC”.


  2. -When a Chinese bank advertises an international credit card and says foreigners can apply for it, but they limit those foreigners who can actually get it by whether they work for a Fortune 500 company or not.

    – When I open a cooler expecting to get a cold soda, only to discover the Chinese shop isnt cooling its soda because its too cold outside. Cold is so relative. And who drinks warm soda anyway?

    – Service is poor just about everywhere.

  3. *when I go out to eat with friends, have amazing spicy food (Hunan, Guizhou, Sichuan), drink lots of beer and the bill is only 40 RMB per person

    *when the beer is NOT cold

    *when beer is cheaper than coke

    *when in 1996, the Pizza Hut at People’s Square was empty at 6PM; in 2005, the gazillion Pizza Hut outlets in Shanghai all have 20 min wait at 3PM (the latter may be “TIGM”; This is great marketing)

    *when someone spits inside a building or elevator

    *when I find myself NOT looking both ways before jaywalking across hongqiao lu and climbing the fence on the median in the process (TIC or IHBICTL “I have been in China too long”)


  4. When people spit

    When people push and shove to get on buses, trains and airplanes, and don’t know how to stand in a queue

    Bad service everywhere

  5. – when drivers cut in without indicating, or indicate but still squeeze in.

    – when drivers don’t let others drivers to merge in

    – when police hand out tickets when you are not really speeding.

    – when cops are pursuing you when you doing nothing wrong, but paying a tip to the cops, you can always get away. or if you are some authority type.

    – higher official cars, or wujin car do give a damn about traffic rule. not even cop cars themselves follow these rules.

    – traffic lights are only there to decorate the city.

    – large shopping centres are there to rip whatever money you got inyour pockets.

    – you can do whatever you like if you have nice, and strong relationships. :) i.e EQ > IQ.

  6. typo……

    – higher official cars, or wujin car do not give a damn about traffic rule. not even cop cars themselves follow these rules.

  7. When a waitress in a restaurant stood next to my table and started clipping her nails, finger by finger.

  8. When I was admiring a very attractive young woman at a traffic light, who proceeded to spat and then squat onto the ground.

  9. When I was admiring a very attractive young woman at a traffic light, who proceeded to spit and then squat onto the ground.

  10. -blowing nose in public by covering one nostril with a finger.

    -bringing your own stash of toilet paper to the public/private restrooms

    -squatters versus conventional toilets

    -when crossing the streets, “it’s every man for himself”; too many “near misses” (accidents)

    -ear piercing noise in the city, disruptive horns, bells, cursing “out of control”

    -total disregard for public safety: wearing helmets, seatbelts, hauling children, oversized

    items on little bikes.

  11. -blowing nose in public by covering one nostril with a finger.

    -bringing your own stash of toilet paper to the public/private restrooms

    -squatters versus conventional toilets

    -when crossing the streets, “it’s every man for himself”; too many “near misses” (accidents)

    -ear piercing noise in the city, disruptive horns, bells, cursing “out of control”

    -total disregard for public safety: wearing helmets, seatbelts, hauling children, oversized

    items on little bikes.

  12. haha..I like it when I can jump the queue too…and nobody minds! Sometimes these are more relaxed here then abroad =) TIC moments, although shocking at times will enrich your experience in China.

  13. It is intersting to see so much TIC moments. It is surprising for me to see some listed items. I just want to put a disclaimer here. We treat this kind of sharing as a way to improve communication, and learn something foreigners cannot get used to. Do not treat it in a negative way and a chance to cricitize China (no commenter did this on this thread so far).

    Something may see bad (for me). I don’t want China to appear this bad in foreigner’s eyes. But unfortunately I have to admit that some of the list (many of them) are true. However, if people in China go to U.S., or European, they may have as many surprising moments as TiC moment too. You can list something people in China get surprised when they visit other countries… It can be interesting too.

  14. -lao taitais spitting on the floor/blowing their nose in starbucks

    -men walking around with shirts off (or up over their large belly)

    -children beggers that just won’t give up

    -people attempting to rip you off at almost every turn

    -those who go on an absolute power trip with their minimal power (ie cashier or store employee, at bank, on bus, etc etc)

    -pushing is a necessity when boarding anything

    -lines are meaningless

    -the automatic assumption that every Westerner owns a gun

  15. Jian Shuo, you are absolutely correct that this kind of list could be made for any country in the world as seen through “outsider’s” eyes. In the U.S., for example, there are many stereotypes that have *become* stereotypes exactly because they are true in so many instances. Think about the image of the overweight American standing in line to order two Double Gigantoburgers at a fast food restaurant. Or rude taxi drivers in New York City. Of course many Americans are slim and prefer salads, and I know there are pleasant helpful taxi drivers to be found, just as (I hope!) not everyone spits on the streets of Shanghai. When your readers comment about the “squatter” toilets as something unusual to them, you are right that it’s simply a discussion of differences. And, if cutting ahead of others in a queue is considered perfectly OK in your culture, well, then maybe the Chinese have lower blood-pressure and feel less anger and hostility toward their fellow men than do people who live where such behavior is likely to start a fist fight. Is either system “better” (or worse)? Not really — just different. This conversation today is another example of what I love so much about your blog — a great opportunity for communication and new understandings :-)

  16. Ladies wearing mini skirts and high heels while hiking.

    When shopping for clothes, sales person comments “oh you are fat you should buy Large” when you are a XS by western standards.

  17. I love how Chinese say “hello” sometimes by asking if you have eaten lunch yet! I don’t know if that happens in any other culture but I think this could be uniquely Chinese. I always have felt this was funny and interesting.

  18. I am a Chinese girl and would like to list those surprise me in the western countries:

    Nearly all girls/women wear mini string strap vest.

    Overweighed men and women

    Heavy meals with lots of meat and many vegetarians on the opposite. Chinese meals with more vegetable and few vegetarian (Chinese vegetarians are mostly Buddhists or Taoists, holding the different purpose to keep this practice).

    Banks offer installment for travel.

    Western people have so many holidays.

    Western people love travel so much.

  19. The belief that all westerners are caucasians. I am of Asian descent and grew up in Australia. When I tell people, I am from Australia they refuse to believe it, look at me like i have grown two heads!! and ask How??!!!!!!!!

  20. In Germany

    If you cross the street without observing the traffic light, you are probably died. if you do so and still alive, you will be scolded by others.

    The streets are generally clean,and people are according the law required to seperate the garbage, but so many people smoke, even in front of their young kids. Non smoking areas don’t exit expcet for in IKEA.

    The kitchens are nice and clean but not much used. eating out or eating Junk Foods are the habits of most of the people.

    you will be scolded if your yard not clean enough,but if you cut the grass on Sunday, that is even worse.

    speaking their language are more expected als foreigner in China.

  21. So much have been said about the TIC moments and I trust all the commenters have unforgettable experiences.

    China has secluded herself for almost quarter century since Korean War and went through enormous political changes, the education institutions did not re-open until late ’70, so people bearing an unothodox behaviors today should not considered as uncommon.

    I suggest all expats and visitors do not tease your Chinese counterpart openly of the “TIC moments” as it will induce repercussion due to self-respect. I think the people in China have already done their upmost to match the international folkway.


  22. TIC moment is not necessarily a negative moment. It is a moment where you realize distinctly you are in China and no other place. It can be a memory, smell, or visual to take back with you to ponder, throw away or remember. A memory you can not make anywhere else. You may even find yourself missing TIC moments when you leave…after all we do need a little variety in life.

  23. I agree Finnpundit. In the past few days, the uglyness of the Chinese people is on display for the entire world to see.

  24. Nothing wrong with the demonstrations. It a release of emotion that could likely have explode in a bigger, much bigger scale. It will have to many some generations for both sides to outgrow this issue



  25. When my bottle of orange juice is labeled “100% orange juice” but the ingredient list says “1% sugar, 101% juice” (This is impossible in *Western* mathematics!)

  26. There is something wrong with the demonstrations: they’re phony. The crappy, one-party Chinese government has orchestrated the whole thing. The demonstrations are not the voice of the people. They’re the voice of those in power.

  27. Jian Shuo, there are lots of TINC (this is not China) moments for Chinese in USA as well. One of my favorites was when my mother-in-law and father-and-law decided to take a stroll on the freeway. We told them they cannot. They said “Why, doesn’t the freeway belong to all the people? And besides it is empty!” We explained that someone would not expect them and would run over them; they exclaimed, “how mean Americans are!”

  28. Probably this represent the best of TIC. But if Chinese are clean like Japanese, where will all the street sweeper go for work? So it is good that Chinese spits, blow the slimmy green content of their noses to the ground, wall, on the street and in the restaurant, Supermarket corners. People get work for cleaning it.

    The Korean in this story is taking the job of this folks hahahaha. Naughty naughty..

    In general the street in Shanghai is quite clean compare to Jakarta for example. So we can hope to see more people behaving in a better way. The public education campaign was there like I saw once on CCTV 7.

    Best time in Shanghai was during SARS. Nobody spit, no body cough, no body dare to sneeze. Remember that?

    Published on ShanghaiDaily.com (http://www.shanghaidaily.com/)

    http://www.shanghaidaily.com/art/2005/10/17/204447/Visitors show us the way to clean up our act.htm

    Visitors show us the way to clean up our act

    Created: 2005-10-17 CST, Updated: 2005-10-17 CST

    ON October 2, more than 80 South Korean tourists, including some 30 children, spontaneously began collecting rubbish in the Nanshan Tourist Zone in Urumqi while they were on a visit there. This made many Chinese people feel embarrassed as well as ashamed.

    The Korean tourists expressed their surprise to see such a beautiful scenic spot strewn with rubbish everywhere. It was not until 20 minutes later when they finished picking up all the rubbish that they continued on with their sightseeing.

    Such a humiliating situation is no longer rare. In some public toilets in Australia, signs have been put up in Chinese to remind Chinese visitors to flush the toilet after use. In many scenic spots in foreign countries, similar posters ask Chinese people to speak in softer tones.

    Many people consider the posters to be an insult and others feel indifferent and even pay no attention to them. Now that Koreans are teaching us a lesson in our own country, should we still remain unmoved?

    Copyright © 2001-2005 Shanghai Daily Company

  29. these type of moments happen in every country you visit and if you are a patient traveler, expat etc., they should be laughed at and appreciated because they can make for interesting memories and stories when you leave the adopted country…

    TII — this is India — being stuck in traffic for 2 hours in Bombay, while only driving 10 kilometres…the elephant with rider next to your car goes faster than you

    TIUSA – this is the States — the % of people in line at cinnabon are usually obese

    the list can be endless…

  30. Oh damn! I thought me and my friends made that up by ourselves!!! TIC is regularly used here. We made it up about 4 months ago on a train to Lijiang.

    Man on the plane to Qingdao spits on the airplane floor. TIC.

    Mother helps her kid steal candy from the supermarket. TIC.

    10 year old boy does a crap in a plastic bag on the bus. TIC.

    Kids carrying around skinned dog bags around Lijiang. TIC.

    Teenagers see us and start talking chinglish and swearing in English. TIC.

    Old lady elbows me out of the way to get on the bus first (there are plenty of seats.) TIC.

    There are too many examples of TIC. I use it literally every day. It is sad but true… This Is China.

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