You know you’ve gone local when…

31 Jul

Over the last month or so as I’ve re-acclimated to China after a lot of traveling the months prior, I’ve started thinking about how much I have changed since I came here nearly five years ago.  It’s getting harder to remember my five years ago self but every once in a while I do something and I think – “Wow, that is a change in my behavior.”

I started jotting down thoughts in random places and slowly realized that I have enough for a list.  If there are any other China expats who can chime in, I’d love to hear when you realized that you’ve “gone local.”

So, I knew that I’d gone local when…

1) I could use a squat toilet in heels

2) I asked for warm water to drink at a restaurant

3) After a long day traveling when I looked at the room service menu I ordered a bowl of beef noodles

4) I told someone off in the grocery store (See this story for details)

5) I checked “going home” on my entry paperwork at the airport instead of “employment” for the reason I was entering the country – this actually caused some confusion with the customs officer who looked at me and asked, “Are you really going home?”

6) I stopped expecting any restaurants to have napkins or bathrooms to have toilet paper

7) I can give my Chinese friends directions to my favorite restaurants

8) My Notre Dame friends invited me to the Chinese (Mandarin speaking) alumni meeting

Eight is a good (lucky) number in Chinese, so I’ll stop my list there which may be another signal that I’ve gone local.

Any more that you can think of?



6 Responses to “You know you’ve gone local when…”

  1. Kristin July 31, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

    That’s an interesting post, I enjoyed reading your list.
    I am not a China expat, but in general I find that no matter where, these things are a sign, too, for having become a local:

    – people ask you for directions (apparently, you don’t appear so lost anymore), and you can actually give them to them.
    – you integrate local produce in your meals without thinking about it anymore.
    – typical everyday words become more familiar in the foreign language than in your own (for me: e.g. Plumber in Spanish…).

    Thanks for the post!

    • gkm2011 August 1, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

      Those are a couple of great things to add – I’ve given directions and I don’t know the word in English for a lot of the Chinese “Green Vegetables” I’ve eaten.

  2. sarahinguangzhou July 31, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

    I now give and take business cards with both hands, the Chinese way. Does that count? I think it will be a long time before I chose to eat noodles, unless there’s nothing else available.

    • gkm2011 August 1, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

      That’s a great one – especially if you’re not in China with the two hands. The noodle one may be unique to me. 🙂

  3. developingcityblog August 1, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    Similar to number 3: on travels, I always find myself choosing things that a westerner wouldn’t for breakfast – i.e. noodles or fried meat for breakfast.

    Also hot/warm water in public toilets now surprises me.

    also green tea is now an absolute must-have in the kitchen.

    • gkm2011 August 1, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

      Isn’t it funny how what “normal” is can change? I totally agree with your second point with the hot water as well.

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