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"I don't like these Chinese ways"

Maley (5 posts) • 0

Hi Rita !

In China, people are starring mostly by curiosity. And also because Foreigners represents freedom and wellness.

When they call you Laowai, this is not pejorative, it is a kind of nickname, and, it means "an obvious foreigner" (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laowai), and not "old foreigner" (and even if...like in Laoshi, it is a mark of respect!).

I am a 华侨 huá qiáo, French born chinese, and they also stared at me, because I look different (from the look, manners, clothes), and I'm often with foreigners.

Just smile at them or wave (and notice their reactions :)), talk to them if you have time or just say Hello, most of them are happy to meet people from abroad.

You know, when you are out of ordinary, you are increasing imagination...

And just be curious as them, you are in a country with a different culture from yours, learn and teach about each others.

If you find something weird, imagine for them how weird we are.

And making friends with chinese seems a bit difficult, but actually, this is also because the way of being close has not the same meaning in China or abroad (and also all the social interactions).

There is a word in French that I can't find the exact meaning in English and the translation doesn't express the real concept of "la pudeur" (maybe the closest meaning is reserved). For exemple, the body language here is not the same as abroad. See, we French people we kiss each other to say hello ! some just shake hands, some people hugs, some others just move thier head or wave...

Open your eyes, your mind and your heart and everything will be ok !

(the "you" is of course general).


PS: I'm not defending all their manners, I don't like their way of being "ecological", instead of using tissue, they're throwing their body fluides on the streets, trashs on the ground, or when they're cuting line when you are waiting for something, etc...

Dazzer (2813 posts) • 0

Just be thankful that you are not a well endowed black woman. Even in more international cities like Shanghai this is a problem.

aaronb (54 posts) • 0

@ Maley,

Nice to see you. We don't know what they word "laowai" originally meant, as there are lots of competing accounts. Lots! And some of them have nothing to do with foreigners.

But referring to someone as a laowai on one hand, and naming them laowai, or addressing them as laowai on tho other= apples and oranges. Not the same. So it CAN be derogatory sometimes. In any case, the way it is used on the streets of Kunming,well, I again would mention the the golden rule...

Also, it has already been mentioned, that in many countries with even less foreigners (visible minorities) visiting, or which are even more isolated or "undeveloped" there is less staring. Further, it has been mentioned that in some very international cities on the east coast, places where foreigners abound, staring persists.

In short, is it possible that we are viewing things with rose colored glasses. The posts saying "get used to it" are off topic, but if the question is about what to do about it, then the advice is perhaps sage.

BillDan (268 posts) • 0

Ah let 'em practice their English with you for free. The questions usually run like this:

"How long since you been in China?"

"Why did you come to China?"

"Do you like Chinese food?"

"How much money you make?"

(If you're a man with a female Chinese friend) "Who is she? Where did you meet her?"

And that is usually about it. And when you answer typically they pay no attention to what you say. Some thing like:

"How long since you been to China?"
"One year or so. Thank you. Are you a local person?"
"You like Chinese food? Who is she?"

That is your average Green Lake dialog. Just go with it.

laotou (1714 posts) • 0

Usually I ignore people who try to initiate conversations with me unless I'm in Kundu - in which case speaking english is usually good for a free bar tab from some big spender...but I tend to avoid Kundu, so moot point.

And if some moneybag should ask you what you're drinking, casually mention "Louis XIII"...

Juli_an (9 posts) • 0

The dialogue BillDan described is pretty much the same you would have speaking Chinese with them, and is also the same dialogue with slight nuances that in any other country an open minded local would have with a foreigner. Where are you from? Why are you here...

After this first getting to know each other you can have pretty interesting conversations depending on your Chinese level, food quality, food safety is usually a good one every Chinese person is concerned about. International relations...really everything you can talk about.

The people that stare more bluntly are often straight out of the countryside, so if you can manage to understand their usually strong accent asking them if they are some sort of minority is often a good opener. Or perhaps and that is something I haven`t tried you could ask them about this years potatoe harvest or the terrible drought.

Anyway I think as soon as Chinese people realise that all foreigners give more or less the same answer they will also start getting bored of having these formal friendly conversations about where are you from and then enthusiastically praising how good your Chinese is, to either start speaking English or telling you everything they know about your country.

I think staring is normal human behavior and we can`t resist but stare at something new exciting that captures our eyes. Well more or less.

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