Changes in Expats Who Stay For Long in China

September 8, 2017
Editor: Amanda Wu
Changes in Expats Who Stay For Long in China

A screenshot of a video called '10 Perks of Living in China' [beebeesub at WeChat]


Many foreigners have undergone great changes whilst living in China — from acting like a fish out of water, observing local customs bit by bit, to finally choosing to stay long-term.

Several expats recently shared their opinions on what proves someone has stayed in China for long.

Speaking Chinese in Sleep

Most agreed that if someone thinks in Chinese in their sleep, then they must have merged into the country well. 

"I once dreamed of making a phone call to my family. They spoke English while I responded in Chinese, but we communicated without difficulty," said an expat.

"In one dream, I quarreled in Chinese with others; it even came to blows and then I woke up. It's a pity that I fail to speak so fluent Chinese in real life," added another.

Drinking Hot Water

Foreigners grow up drinking room-temperature water. When they dine in a Chinese restaurant, waiters first serve them a pot of hot water. They are at a loss and ask: "Isn't it too hot to drink?"

However, as time goes by, they realize that hot water functions well on many occasions. When foreign women go back home, the prescription they give to their girlfriends is hot water: drink it for period pain; for a cold; and, for tiredness. They can enumerate hot water's benefits with great familiarity.

Experienced expats can even distinguish the cold and hot properties of various foods, and dig into Chinese tea culture and the Five Elements (metal, wood, water, fire and earth, held by ancient Chinese to compose the physical universe and later used in traditional Chinese medicine to explain various physiological and pathological phenomena).

Bargaining with Dealers 

In the wet market, foreigners have learned to bargain with dealers and to shop around for cheaper goods.

When foreigners first arrive in China, they would like to learn martial arts, Chinese calligraphy and studies of Chinese ancient civilization, but they eventually understand that integrating into local life lies in daily basic necessities, such as eating and drinking.

Using Squat Toilets

A UK man revealed that he liked shopping malls' squat toilets most. "This kind of toilet is Chinese people's 'greatest invention'," he explained. "In public places, I usually take a squatting position, whilst sitting on toilets indeed is a nightmare." 

A U.S. man, who has lived in a Beijing hutong, a type of narrow alley or lane, has been accustomed to taking toilet paper with him. "I have got acquainted with a number of neighbors in public toilets. We smoke and chat while squatting there. Such an honest feeling is what I experienced in an alcoholics-anonymous activity in the States."

The longer expats stay in China, the more they decline to leave. A cell phone can handle everything; express parcels arrive in the doorway; and, no fear arises at the sight of police. This sense of comfort makes them unwilling to leave.

Over time, they have become experienced expats. They eat barbecue skewers from sidewalk snack booths; sleep on a hard bed; respond with the Chinese mimetic word "en" in chats with a closed mouth rather than saying "yes" or "uh-huh"; and, cram into buses or subways and so on.


Changes in Expats Who Stay For Long in China

A foreigner makes tea. [beebeesub at WeChat]

Changes in Expats Who Stay For Long in China

A foreigner at a farmer'swet market [beebeesub at WeChat]


(Source: beebeesub at WeChat/Translated and edited by Women of China)

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