What it means to be a foreigner in China.

What it means to be a foreigner in China.
Neha.p Feb 08, 2014 00:49

Well hello everybody!

This is the first time I am ever writing a blog and i don't even know how to begin!

I'll start with how I arrived here. I have been living in Suzhou for more than 2 years and I am a student here. Being a foreigner in this country has been full of surprises and new experiences. And yeah weirdness too!


So i guess this blog will skim a bit over my experiences with the people here.


Being from India I have been sometimes looked upon with awe and sometimes with scorn. I get the awe because many people here have seen bollywood movies and the beautiful actresses have made quite an impression here. So they think all Indian girls look beautiful.I don't understand the logic behind it but it sure feels good nonetheless. ;)


Well about the scorn, I have no idea! I feel, not sure though, that it stems from a bit of racism.


And the other thing, I have never been completely sure why the street shopkeepers and vendors give us warm wide smiles when we buy something from them. Is it because they are geniunely happy or they're gloating over the fact that they managed to fool another foreigner? Whichever it is, I wont know..So i just smile back and say 'Xie Xie'.


And is it completely okay to propose to an expat whom you've just met? This hilarious incident happened with this friend of mine when we went shopping. She was checking out some things and this sales guy walks up to her and starts complimenting her and stuff. I was at an easy hearing distance and despite her pleading glances I ignored and just stood there trying to see where this would lead to. And then he asked her if she would marry him. She mumbled 'wo ting bu dong' while i stood there laughing. I knew the guy was kidding but the situation was unbelievable.


I think most of the time they think they can get away with saying anything because we don't understand. Thats funny cuz we do understand most of the times!


One day I was in an elevator and a kid asked her mom who I was. Her mom said I was American. I corrected her and said I was Indian and not American. To which she said "yeah I know, but she doesn't know..her school didn't teach her about India yet" I just gave a stiff smile not knowing if I should be offended or laugh at this.


I'm not trying to belittle the chinese or anything. Infact I have made friends with many and i believe that they are nice and helpful, well most certainly are! but this experience is very surprising and new for me. I just want to know if there are others who've had the same experiences or worse.


So I'll end this here by saying I have had really great time here, found many great places here in Suzhou, learnt to sing few chinese songs, get ogled at everyday just for being an alien here, being pointed at by kids and called 'wai guo ren and mei guo ren', fell countless times inside the speeding public bus, scaring children in the supermarket by making funny faces which was supposed to make them laugh, got scolded by the bus driver for speaking too much and too loud (twice), most of the food here is really pathetic for my taste, but I am certainly in love with this place!


Tags:Expat Tales


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You were scolded for being too loud on the bus? I didn't think that it was possible to be too loud for Chinese people. These are the loudest people I have ever met. I congratulate you for reaching a volume that even the Chinese couldn't handle. Feed them more of their own medicine. As for the staring problem, try staring back at them and widen your eyes when you do it. The expression on their face is priceless.

Jul 16, 2014 18:49 Report Abuse



Nice first Blog Neha! Hope to see many more. My spin on your topic is that as an Australian here mainly on business in the clean-tech industry, my experiences are being given amazing hospitality by host companies and universities. Now on my third trip and with a full-time relocation on my horizon, I'm only just starting to discover the ex-pat life - and all its weirdness, annoyances and fun.

Mar 26, 2014 13:55 Report Abuse



Thank you. :). I'm sure you'll have lots of fun here.

Mar 26, 2014 15:03 Report Abuse



everything have two coins, you know Chinese be good for replicas, that also let people love-hate. as to many foreigners want to buy cheaper brand name products. actually the quality is also good and price is cheaper, that people love so much, so not hate Chinese, people love it, that is ok. I also buy replicas, sometimes I hate, but when I received the high quality, I think that's good, cheaper price let me reach my expensive dream. I always buy from here: www.diybrands.co I think the quality well, as to every time, I can received the goods that I order.

Mar 19, 2014 20:59 Report Abuse



Interesting to hear some of this stuff, I thought I was the only one facing such plethora of reactions. As a African, a friend asked me if I always see lions around in my country and I sarcastically answered Yes, we even ride on them. Haahhahaaa. My Indian course mate had to shout one guy apparently they guy was looking at her in a demeaning way. We just laugh over some of the cultural shocks and keep negotiating our way through. Its been fun so far.

Mar 16, 2014 23:08 Report Abuse



Yeah I think the best thing is to go along with them and add in more stupid non-existent things that would render them speechless since most of them don't even get the sarcasm. It would make a very entertaining story. The lion comment was funny! :)

Mar 21, 2014 00:37 Report Abuse



I continually come across people here who tell me 'facts' about my home country that make me laugh out loud. they say it with such assurance that when i correct them, they refuse to believe me: "but i read it on the internet......"

Mar 14, 2014 07:21 Report Abuse



I wish that they were more aware about the world and different cultures. It seems like they are all encased in some cocoon. I kind of feel sorry for them. Especially the kids.

Mar 21, 2014 00:48 Report Abuse



had some funny experience myself.....though I am an Indian.....people thought I was from USA or UK......once I shaved my head I was called an African....further more there were some Chinese girls who said they read on the internet that Indians can have 4 wives........many people here are so ignorant and they still don't take a chance to know about the world outside

Mar 14, 2014 01:49 Report Abuse



Yeah like this one: Indians only eat spicy food! People have really been shocked when I told them majority of us have a sweet tooth too!

Mar 21, 2014 00:44 Report Abuse



they are obssessed with westerners specially with americans

Mar 12, 2014 15:49 Report Abuse



I'm glad you like it here. The lack of cultural sensitivity stems from having no awareness of the outside world. If you look upon it as a form of child-like innocence, then it should feel tolerable enough. Related to this is the enormous amount of stereotypes, national myths, and simplistic views which fill the void of knowledge here. It can be an irritation to us at times, but you and I know that living in a dream world will cause more problems for the Chinese in the long run than for us. If you care about the people, try to find ways to get people to question their own beliefs. It's the Da Vinci Code that expats like myself are trying to crack. From what I can tell so far, it's just like educating stubborn children: If you can make them believe they thought of it first, then they'll want to change & improve on their own. Chinese copy technology from the West, but adamantly refuse to take over values, philosophy or any other social aspect. They hold their own Cultural Revolution as the standard of philosophical excellence. Given how many people died for it, I can't blame them.

Feb 12, 2014 16:55 Report Abuse



Well I really have a love-hate relationship with China. yeah they want to copy the west but at the same time keep their chinese values too which is great but only to an extent. I think they should be educated more about the outside world. And i really don't know how that is going to happen or who is going to take the initiative. It feels like they are just being purposely separated from the whole wide world. Its really scary and sad if this is true.

Feb 12, 2014 23:40 Report Abuse



It's a level of stubbornness we're unaccustomed to. Samsara wrote a great blog about their self-perception: http://space.echinacities.com/239770/blog/spacenodedetail/818 Basically, they take offense at being perceived any way other than the way they see themselves. And due to isolation, their views have never been challenged, and have become very far removed from a reasonable, objective appraisal of reality. Mostly they choose to see themselves in a positive light, which is vital, because criticism and "non-perfection" is closely tied to failure. In a black/white world view, you're either perfect, or you're a failure. I believe it's a very immature attitude, but it's the norm here.

Feb 14, 2014 15:03 Report Abuse



Wow I didn't know about that kind of attitude here. I'm going to read that article right now.

Feb 14, 2014 18:14 Report Abuse



Hi! Am also Indian student in guangzhou. Are you still in China

Jul 17, 2014 00:16 Report Abuse