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...