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"I don't like these Chinese ways"

ritta (26 posts) • 0

My friend M is from Germany. He complained to me that he was stopped at Green Lake Park again and practice oral English with local English learners yesterday. I looked at his green eyes and curly brown hair and smiled. He is not the first foreign friend of mine who complained about this. One friend from Norway with blond hair once told me that she was quite uncomfortable that many people stared at her when she was walking on streets.

Do you have similar experiences in China? What do you think of this?

tommann (424 posts) • 0

When I moved to China 5 months ago, yes, it bothered me greatly. In fact, it made me very uncomfortable. However, I realized that most stares are out of curiosity, not hostility. And when people around Green Lake ask me to speak English, I realize that they are usually not scammers, but really just want to chat with a foreigner. It is all friendly. No worries.

Liumingke1234 (3161 posts) • 0

If all you get are stares that's nothing. You'll get used to it the longer you stay here. As for practicing English, you'll learn to say 'no time'.

aaronb (54 posts) • 0

@Ritta,

It is mixed. Tomman says it is all friendly, but I think that it is not all friendly. Some of it is. But, actually, it seems that friendliness is the wrong way to measure this kind of thing. There are other things, like consideration, empathy (the golden rule), and sincerity that are often lacking among people who mean no harm. That might be what bothered your friend.

I also disagree with liumingke, I think foreigners adapt to it in waves-after some months it is not so bothersome, some months later it is bothersome again.

My own reply is that, generally speaking, most people in Kunming go too far with staring at "laowai". They stare too much. Most don't even smile when they do it, but the point is-that they wouldn't like to be stared at that way, and they should be able to predict that it is a problem that laowai faces everyday. But they either don't get this, or don't care.

About practicing English, it is often fine or harmless, but sometimes it feels cold to make "friends" with people who don't want to know you deeply. Basically, most people don't want to be close friends with a foreigner. At least not based on having something in common.

Most want to talk to them out of curiosity. Again, the golden rule. It would be good to stop and think if someone asked you the same things all the time, by people that you will never see again, would that bother you? Yes, it would.

Others want to practice their English, and that is fine if that's all it is and they say so. But, it is insulting when they say "I want to make a friend in order to practice my English". Others want to look cool, to gain face in their community by being seen with a laowai-it appears that they have connections overseas.

I have met some of the sweetest people in the world in Kunming, but lets not pretend that most of the current customs for interacting with foreigners are going to be considered inviting and warm, (unless one is simply a traveler on holiday, and therefore not looking for acceptance).

ritta (26 posts) • 0

@aaronb

Actually most local people want to know more about foreigners who live around them and treat them in polite way. I think troubles may caused by some reason, such as culture conflicts.

JJ and Janice (324 posts) • 0

I'm from West Texas. Grew up "trained" to look folks in the eye when meeting on the street and usually offering a "Howdy." (Yep - not as many folks there as here!!)

I still follow my habit and often folks meeting my direct look glance away - - so I usually wind up staring more at them than vice versa.

Side note: I was once walking street in Philadelphia with my boots - Stetson - Wranglers - - and doing lots of "Howdy's" One woman complained to a policeman that I had said something "vulgar" to her - - but she didn't know what it was.

Takes all kinds.

aaronb (54 posts) • 0

Ritta,

I disagree. And i am foreigner. Most of my friends in Kunming are Yunnanese. Most local people don't try to know the foreigners who live near them, and they don't treat the foreigners who live around them in a polite way. That doesn't mean local people are bad, it means that they don't know how to express themselves in a way that most people in the world can receive as warm or comfortable.

Of course, many Yunnan people also don't feel that Kunming locals are very nice, but that is not exactly my experience, because I have met lots of nice people here. My experience is that the current customs of staring, calling people laowai, not getting to know people, asking them the same things over and over, acting distant, and also some subtle xenophobic behaviors, are not comfortable for almost anyone.

laotou (1714 posts) • 0

Hey JJ - My college classmate (Japanese American) moved to Texas with her husband (Filipino) after graduation - she said she hated Texas cuz EVERYONE would look at her and stare (doesn't help that she's tall and attractive).

As for y'all Euro-American looking folks - learn to speak spanish, german, french, italian (just enough to say hello and sorry no para anglais)...or Hebrew or....

Me...I love Texas cuz Texans love their guns...and liberty and freedom and can tell the difference between genuine manure and political speeches (one's good for fertilizer).

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