So I got back to the US not too long, I have backlog of stuff I have written. Since I have been out of China for a while, I have kicked some of these habits since first writing this(Which was a few months ago in January).
I have had some time these days to think about how China has been. I have realized that I may have been here a bit too long, I have come dangerously close to “going native” and assimilating. It helps to look Chinese, but I am more referring to habits I have picked up while here in China. Here are a few that I noticed:
Reacting to non-Chinese people as if I saw a shiny Pokemon
Every time I am in the subway and see someone who isn’t Chinese a million questions run through my head. If they are not asian I may end up staring at them in awe. Now, I should not be surprised, there are lots of foreigners (me being one of them) in China, I reckon that I am just used to swimming through ocean of Chinese people, and other foreigners(at least the non-asian ones) stick out a lot more because of it.
Defaulting to Chinese even with english speakers
Evidently, I am still working on my control of switching languages when speaking. Or maybe it is because I never grew up bilingual, so I never had control over switching languages. In any case, my default language when speaking these days is Chinese( or Chinglish since my vocabulary is not extensive yet). It is interesting because I have had conversations with Chinese students that speak english, what happens sometimes is that I speak to them in Chinese and they speak back to me in English. to be fair, my listening comprehension sucks, so maybe they have to speak English for me to keep the conversation going. I have also have had some creepy dreams in Chinese too
Crossing the street regardless of red or green light.
By now, it is pretty established that China has its unique set of “rules of the road”. Green means go, yellow means go faster, red means don’t stop. This is true for drivers and pedestrians. While this was already a habit in the US, living here in China has put that habit on overdrive. These days I don’t even stop to look if a car is going, I just assume it will go around me. The logic is sound, as long as I cross the street in a predictable way the cars will go around me, right?
When 200 and under pollution level is a good day
When i first arrived in Beijing earlier last summer, I would wear my mask when the pollution was 100 or higher. Now the pollution is so normalized that 200 and under means I do don’t need to wear a mask. Its a good day. Again, not necessarily a good thing, but hey I’ll be leaving soon!
Talking a bit ruder and louder
If my manners were a garden, they would be shriveling and dying. Something about being here in China has put my manners in a galaxy far far away. Whenever I am in a restaurant I find myself yelling at the waitress ( not in an angry way, just in an attention getting way. Its normal here, I promise). Spitting in the street, and not getting in line( which is the basis of all civil society ). My momma goin give me a beating when I get back to the US.
English is deteriorating
while my Chinese as improved while from here, my English has not. It took me ages to write this post and filter through my grammatical errors. Spoken English has also become somewhat of more difficult for me. I am always mixing up words and getting my tongue tied. The weirdest things that I sometimes when I am stuck on a sentence, the Chinese word pops up in my head first while I am trying to find the English word
Phone is set to Chinese characters instead of English
As my circle of Chinese friends grows, so does the amount of time I spend texting in Chinese. It has almost become the default on my phone. So when I try to do a google search or text someone back in the US, I get confused as to why normal English words don’t show up
Carrying tissue around is a automatic thing
Most Chinese restaurants don’t offer tissue. It has become a fact of life for me. Actually the more critical fact of life is that Chinese bathrooms is have their own tissues. so you have to bring your own or risk being stranded in a public bathroom and frantically searching your pockets for a suitable substitute. Speaking of Chinese toilets….
Squat toilets are a normal thing
While my apartment has typical western toilets, I have come to appreciate the squatters. It was bit uncomfortable at first, but really helps move along those bowel movements. It is still a bit hard to aim…. Since we are still on the topic of toilets. Why do a bunch of private bathrooms here have a urinal and a sitting toilet right next each other? I still don’t understand. Do they expect to simulatenously have two people in a private bathroom at some point?
Default to typing Baidu instead of Google on the internet.
I just realized that google was made available without VPN the morning I was writing this. Prior to this fateful event, on most days when I turn on my computer and turn on google chrome, my default to to click on the”B” key and have Baidu pop up so I can search things in the web. Not as good as Google, but it gets the job done.
So yeah, these are the habits I picked up since coming to China. However, I still refuse to be constantly on my phone texting, as is the norm around here. Mostly because I do not have mobile data and have nothing to do on my phone.