The Funny Thing About China Is…

This will probably be one of those on-going posts. From here on I’ll probably just put the number and go right onto what I’m thinking is strange to the lǎowài [foreigner].

First and foremost (thanks Wikipedia):
“In recent years the word ‘laowai’ has begun to stir up controversy within the expatriate community in China. In this way ‘laowai’ is similar to how Americans view the Spanish word gringo and Westerners view the Japanese word gaijin or the Thai word farang. This is because many foreigners in China believe that ‘laowai’ is a derogatory term. This is because some Chinese frequently shout out ‘Laowai’! to foreigners passing by, which may then be followed up with laughter and taunting.”

Just depends on the person, really, just like many things stateside.

Okay, things:
1. Babies have little slits in their pants to do number 2 or number 1 whenever they need to. If you can’t imagine it, just think about someone that’s just ripped their pants at the buttcrack. Yes, just like that. They generally try not to use the bathroom outside, but when you gotta go, you gotta go.

2. There is a culture to clinking a glass with someone at celebrations or large group events. This depends on whether you are male or female, what your rank or status is, and what you think of others. I always go low, haw haw.

3. Milk and eggs aren’t refrigerated here, nor are they refrigerated in a place like Germany, according to Miss Mander. The milk is in an air-tight container and the expiration date is generally a mere suggestion. There are less preservatives in the food and while it doesn’t last longer- it generally is healthier… unless I’m drinking spoiled milk, yeah?

4. Women see money as love holistically. Men try their best to earn a lot of money so they can find a beautiful wife. The reason behind this seems to be a compilation of complexities. I’ve been hearing it called a dowry for weeks ( and men already so obviously take advantage of women here), and it really bugged me to have that extra unfairness piled on, until I realized everyone meant bride price. I believe most of the people I know use the term “dowry” too, when they mean bride price. The dowry is the goods the woman brings to the table such as “Oh hey, paw’s got a lot of land y’all can have.” But the bride price is what a man must offer to a woman’s parents in order to marry. Anyway, this is the payback. If the man cannot pay for the woman’s bride price he generally isn’t allowed to marry her.

This is considering the parents are traditional, which may or may not be phasing out. I think good parents would offer the extra money to their children, and the children will support the parents if ever needed, but who really can say? Sometimes I feel like we are so lucky to be able to say “I chose him/her.” Even if you’re never married to your partner, you still get to choose who you can spend a life with. It’s very nice I think… but maybe there are nice things to “arranged” marriages too, along the lines of “mother knows best,” yeah?

5. Google is strange all on its own. Google and China apparently have an awful relationship. Most obviously, the reason is Google is anti-censorship, and China is pro-censorship. Google wants you to know everything and China wants you to know what they want you to know. Sometimes Google acts like I’m asking it to do a triple-flip into a 5-foot-deep-pool: NOT HAVING IT. It’s tough to use the internet in general. In fact, right now Word Press looks like some sort of graphic design template with nothing in the right area, like a student made the website from scratch or something.

6. The driving here is insane. There is no description worthy enough. However, in my personal experience, it’s not that Chinese drivers are bad. Shit, they don’t wreck constantly so I think they’re doing really well for just how painstakingly close they drive to one another. It’s almost like a sixth sense with good Chinese driving. The same goes for the bike lanes, which you may or may not be familiar with. Lots of bikes and lots of cars surviving the ride (mostly).

7. Food here is not what you imagine it to be. Get the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Chinese_cuisine idea out of your head. I’m sure the food’s really good but I haven’t been very adventurous, I’m sorry to say.

I’ve realized that about myself. When I don’t have at least one good friend around, my confidence sinks to zero. I feel almost desolate, which is strange, what with so many strangers saying “HELLO!” (jokingly and in seriousness) The confidence I have borrows from the comfort in my good friends and family members. I miss home something fierce and can’t wait to come back (and have a real Big Mac) but I’m going to stick this year out and do a good job at teaching.

But seriously, when I come back, I assume my family will be there and Kristen, and together we will have 50 Big Macs… mostly for me. And then I will vomit everywhere. Joyous reunion.

I think that’s enough for now. I’ll start with #8 if anything different comes my way.

Goodbye, Bye-bye, Bye, See you later
(if you meet a Maple Leaf student, they are destined to say one of these for the rest of their lives)

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About Jonny Blevins

Be proud of who you are, wherever you are. I'm sure other dimensions and worlds exist. Trying to be photogenic is gross. Weak stomachs are weird. I talk about my hypothetical Chow Chow, Fa Mulan, regularly. Handan, China is like West Virginia with more Chinese people. Pittsburgh is alright. I'm there now.
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