I got an email from my mother yesterday with what I believe was sound advice on how to improve this blog.  My daily life here in China has is just so fascinating and exciting that often times I slip into the habit of just writing about what I do everyday, a diary of sorts.  She encouraged me to focus more on some of my observations, and in honor of her suggestion today’s post will be a series of attributes I’ve noticed about Chinese people, with corresponding examples from my experience on the Otherside.

Chinese People Are…

1)  Loud

Public places in China are usually overflowing with noise.  From unrelenting car horns—they usually blow their horn if there’s anyone in front of them, , to loud speakers in front of a shop blaring the same phrase over and over again (Buy shoes!  Men’s shoes!  Women’s shoes!  Cheap!).  Restaurants are even worse.  Instead of waving a hand to get the waiter’s attention, patrons stand up and shout “Fuyuan!  Gai women jiazi!”  Waiter!  Give us some more dumplings!

2) Spontaneous

I made the mistake of giving my phone number to the bunch of kungfu students I met a couple of weeks ago while eating at a barbecue restaurant.  Since then, they have called me about three times a week, jabbering off unrecognizable Mandarin until I explain, “Ting bu dong,” I don’t understand, at which point they shout, “Cheers,” hoping that I will be available to go get drunk.  They don’t like to call any earlier than 10:00 PM or so, right about the time I’m starting to settle into bed.  This spontaneous invitation, with no forewarning, is quite common.  In fact, Daren, a Canadian guy teaching English in Liaocheng, told me that he often gets calls from the parents of his students, proclaiming, “I’ve rented out a room at this fancy restaurant tonight, bought a bunch of food, and invited fifty people, and it’s all in your honor!”  I lost my hot water last week for three days, apparently with the rest of Liaocheng.  There was no explanation as to why, how, or when it might come back.  These are the kind of things that drive foreigners in China up the wall, but in the end it only makes us realize just how cushy our lives are back home.

3)  Concerned with food.

Now you might take the argument that all cultures are concerned with food, and for the most part this is true, but the Chinese tend to be very particular about when and how they eat.  A common greeting in China is, “Ni chi le ma?” Translated into English as, Have you eaten? This is meant as a way of portraying concern with one’s health.  Chinese people eat breakfast lunch and dinner at the same time every day.  Go to a restaurant at noon and the place will be jam packed.  Swing back around 2 or 3, or you’re likely to find the waiters and chefs with their heads face down on their arms, catching a quick afternoon snooze.

4) Basketball Maniacs

Basketball is a religion in China, and Yao Ming is they’re prophet.  When I tell people I’m from America, one of the first responses is to tell me their favorite basketball team or player.  Kobe Bryant is a favorite, and the Houston Rockets, Yao’s team, is always brought up in conversation.

5)  Tacky

Now I don’t want to get into trouble by writing something overtly offensive of Chinese people, but in all honesty this attribute is probably one of the biggest things I’ve noticed since coming to China, especially when it comes to Chinese girls.  I was in a store on campus the other day buying a notebook, when I came across a purple plastic desk lamp in the shape of a teddy bear that you turned on by lifting the bears head, at which point his eyes would open.  It was the kind of cheap plastic piece of junk that any 8 year old girl in the US would covet, and then toss out the second she turned 10.  Yet not moments after I moved on from examining the bear lamp, a girl of about twenty or so picked it up, turned it over several times, lifted the bear’s head and dropped it back down, as if she were examining an antique and calculating its value.  There’s no way she’s going to buy that, I thought to myself.  Yet moments later she was dropping it into her bag along with frilly colored gell pens and a sheet smiley face and heart stickers, with the most sincere and stern look of intention on her face.  This will go nicely with the stuffed animal motique of my room, I imagined her thinking.

That’s all for now, but check back soon for more “Chinese People Are…”