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Do you also willfully ignore expats you cross in the street?

AlPage48 (1353 posts) • 0

I usually just make eye contact, smile, nod and continue on my way, and the others usually do the same. No big deal.

nnoble (889 posts) • 0

When this perennial question comes up I've always wanted to ask why some foreigners think they should acknowledge each other.

Everyone's different but if you are an outgoing individual who comfortably nods and smiles then surely you'll react to what other people do or say or how they act and not because of some tenuous tribal loyalty based solely on 'not being Chinese'.

And if you are not a naturally gregarious nodder or smiler then the sheer number of foreigners around town excuses you from forcing yourself to act out of character. Kunming is not the Gobi Desert.

Tonyaod (824 posts) • 0

A couple of thoughts on this issue from observations and experience.

First of all, while personalities vary, why do people feel fellow expats are obligated to be friendly just because we are fellow expats? And why do we feel offended and automatically chalk it up to arrogance when they don't respond rather than to assume some other reason?

There are people back in the States or your respective country that will smile and be bubbly to anyone they meet, the post man, the grocer, the kid vandalizing your house, etc., and there are people that just don't want to be bothered. Why should we change our personality just because we are in China? We'll probably behave the same way as when back home. When you wave at a stranger back home and the dude ignores you, do you say "What an arrogant prick!" or do you just move on? Why can't it be the same here in China?

In regards to the receiver of the enthusiasm, there are several reasons for not reciprocating. Ever walk down the street and be bombarded by locals shouting out "Hello! Hello!" and want to practice their English with you? We feel the same way. If we have to stop and smile back or nod back at every expat we meet we would be emotionally exhausted. Another reason is that usually after being here for sometime, we all establish a circle of friends, both expat and local. We don't need to make more friends, especially with some stranger who feels they need to befriend me just because I am an expat.

I have observed that expats whom likes to befriend any expat they come across are either new in town and is excited by they their new surroundings or have been here a while and just don't have any friends.

If you are the former, I would suggest you go to the local expat watering hole, your chances of meeting friendly expat there are much higher. If you wave to a fellow expat on the street and he ignores you then don't be offended or perplexed, just move on. You'll meet people who will wave back. If you are the latter then either you have a personality problem or it's just sad.

Anyway, these are just my opinion, take it for what it's worth.

Hope y'all have a great holiday!


laotou (1714 posts) • 0

I ignore everyone equally, regardless of race, creed, color, religion, age, gender, or country of origin, thank you very much.

Magnifico (1981 posts) • 0

What are we, in Mr. Rogers Neighborhood? Who smiles at strangers on the street? And...if you can't survive 15 minutes without contact with another white person, maybe you should go back home.

123go (145 posts) • 0

People are same in each country, also different from one to another. Excellent, beautiful, ugly, shit, asshole, foreigner or Chinese? Seriously no big deal at all.

blobbles (958 posts) • 0

I think the amount of ignoring fellow lao wai is directly proportional to the distance from expected locations to find fellow lao wai. For example, if I am on Bei Chen walking street, in Metro, on Wen Lin Jie, I will probably ignore lao wai. But... if I am in a place like Xi Shan, Yuxi, Anning, even parts of the city where I don't normally see lao wai, I will smile while passing and even say "Hi!". There is no reason for us not to celebrate human interactions with our fellow humans, particularly ones we can identify with in some way - asia should teach us that this is where western culture is in error. It seems to me most Asians will talk to each other or interact in some way based on the smallest of commonalities, which leads to a more fulfilling day to day existence and greater sense of belonging. We westerners tend to fall into a trap of "don't interact with anyone, act unimpressed by everyone/everything, don't show any emotion" type of existence, where we go to work, interact with computers which separates us from real human interaction, go home, watch TV and wonder why we feel unfulfilled with our lives. I can tell you this - compared with my home (whose people are particularly notorious for their desire to avoid interaction), I have a greater sense of belonging in Asia, even if I can't speak the language so well. Why? Because Asians tend to listen to their base desire that human contact brings happiness so will try to interact with you and others easily. Shouldn't we learn something from this?

I do note however that most laowai in Asia do feel this too (maybe it just comes from travelling?) and I tend to have more genuine interactions with laowai friends here than I do with most stay-at-homers in the west...

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