Many of us experience extreme culture shock when we first move to China. From the language and food, to the driving and climate, there’s plenty to get to grips with. But over time, we somehow learn to adapt. Before we know it, we realize we’ve picked up the local customs and habits. Here are six signs that you’ve fully assimilated to life in China.
When you first came to China, you struggled to get your head around the fact that many of your colleagues took a nap in the office after lunch. If you did that in your home country, the boss would assume you’re nursing a heavy hungover and repeated offenders would likely get the boot.
A few years down the line, you still don’t have your very own fold-out bed or an alarm set to wake you up every day at the end of lunch. But, some days when work isn’t busy or you had a late night, you allow yourself a cheeky 20 minutes of shuteye along with the rest of your colleagues. When in Rome.
Once upon a time, the buses in China terrified you. They seemed to travel inside some mysterious vortex you couldn’t penetrate, and you had no idea where they were going, how to pay or how long a journey would take. It may have been 10 times more expensive, but you’d rather take a taxi.
Although you still take taxis on occasion, you’re now very familiar with your local bus routes and regularly use the service as part of your public transport mix. You know when the buses are coming, where they’re going to, and how to pay with the simple swipe of a QR code on your phone. You also know that taking the bus is saving you a whole lot of money in the long haul.
At the start of your life in China, you were confused every time you went to a restaurant and the locals ordered a dozen dishes for the table. All you wanted was a bowl of noodles to yourself, but everyone else was happy digging into all the dishes on offer, including your own. As a result, you felt a great sense of relief whenever you got to go to an expat pub and order a simple burger and fries for yourself.
Now, you can hardly remember the individualistic eating habits of your former life. Eating together, especially at hot pot and barbecue restaurants, is just so much more sociable and fun. It’s even reached the point now that you find yourself ordering Western dishes to share among your friends when you go back to that same expat pub. Why choose between a burger and a pizza when you can have both?
When you first came to China, you really enjoyed going to KTV. It was a totally new and refreshing experience for you, from the drinking, to the singing to the dice games. It was all great fun, as long as there was free-flowing alcohol involved, of course. You sure as hell wouldn’t be getting on the mic without a skinful of Dutch courage.
But somewhere along the way, something changed. Like your Chinese friends and colleagues, you no longer need to be steaming drunk in order to enjoy KTV. You might decide not to drink some nights because you have a big day tomorrow. Perhaps you’ve even started going to KTV during the day or killing time in those booths at airports. Once you have the ability to sing in public without alcohol, you know you’ve become truly assimilated to China.
One of the most jarring things for a China newbie is being handed a glass of piping hot water on a scorching summer’s day. Just why? Not only did you find this seemingly magic beverage given as a cure-all for any ailment, but it was served as standard in restaurants and even offered in the gym.
The whole “drink hot water” thing became a running joke between you and your foreign friends, but at some point you noticed you started pouring hot water when you were feeling under the weather. It’s not that you genuinely believe it has any medical benefits. It just somehow makes you feel better. Even further down the line and you’ve started preferring hot water even when you’re not feeling ill and even when it’s hot and humid. When you start preferring warm beer, however, it’s probably time to leave.
When you first came to China, you could barely speak a word of Chinese, let alone string a sentence together. It was so completely foreign and opaque you marveled at expats with even the most basic of commands.
Today, you may not be fluent, but you’ve picked up a decent amount of words and phrases over the years that now roll off the tongue without a thought. These habits have become so entrenched that when you go back home for a visit, you sometimes find yourself slipping into Chinese. Maybe it’s a “You Zhuan” when directing a taxi, a “Gan Bei” when drinking with your friends, or even an innocuous “Hao De” or “Keyi” to a question. It’s not that you’ve become fluent or are showing off. You’ve just got so used to speaking Mandarin on a daily basis that you’ve started to think in another language. Muscle memory is a marvelous thing.
What are the other signs that expats have truly assimilated into life in China? Tell us in the comments section below.
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Keywords: life in China
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Jun 09, 2021 16:50 Report Abuse
this would have been funny and maybe accurate in about 2007. in 2021 it is not either of them. The person who wrote this is either not in China or so far up his own backside that he fails to realise that his rose tinted glasses makes him look like a major ass kisser.
May 29, 2021 01:28 Report Abuse