Friday, August 30, 2013

10 Lovely Habits I've Picked up by Living Here

1. I interrupt people on their phones. I can clearly see that they are talking on their phones, yet I will dive right in to ask them a question. I blame this on every person in the retail sector here. Talking on the phone is merely a hand gesture,  not actually an action to take into consideration when you need something from that person.

2. I push old people around. And oh no, not emotionally, but physically. I used to take a passive stance when getting on a bus or standing in line at a market. While being kind and polite, sure enough, an old lady would come up and push me out of line. She wouldn't even look back to see if I was offended. So I started throwin' elbows. Simple as that. (I am firmly aware of all the things wrong with this.)

3. I reply in 3's. When asked a question, my response is always in 3's. For example, "Are you going to the train station tomorrow?" My reply would be, "Ya, ya, ya." In both languages, my response feels incomplete in 2's.

4. I forget to shave. Culturally it's totally the norm for women to not shave. Chinese aren't particularly hairy people, so this shaving trend hasn't really taken off here. I hated shaving in America and the only reason I did it is because of the cultural pressure put on me to not look like a dude. Cultural pressure gone=freedom to not shave much.

5. I pick up my soup bowl. When I am done eating noodles or even at home finishing a bowl of Tomato Basil, I pick up the bowl and drink it. I realize there's some cross over in cultures on this one. But for the most part, Americans don't pick up their bowls and drink. Especially not as adults.

 6. I like to soak my feet in hot water before bed. It really does help you fall asleep at night. I will also say that my feet are pretty dirty by the end of the day, so it's nice to get into bed with clean feet. It makes me feel better when I don't wash the sheets for weeks on end. At least I didn't drag ground funk into bed with me.

7.  When walking by myself, I slap my upper arms. This is not an every time occurrence, but more often than I'd like to admit to my American counterparts. Slapping your arms, walking backwards, and throwing your back up against a wall is an apparent requirement when seeking retirement. My inner monologue used to ruthlessly mock this habit. Until one day, up came my arm and I decided to give it a go. It really does get the blood moving. I'm a fan.

8. I no longer use contractions in English. When we taught English here, we stripped our English of contractions because they tripped up all of our Chinese friends. Now I awkwardly say things like, "I cannot go to the store today. Let us go out to eat instead." This sounds like an English butler or someone getting their American citizenship for the first time.

9. I take pictures of people without asking or even pretending to be discrete. This is a daily occurrence for our family, so I have found it quite normal to aim my camera straight at someone without a second thought. This is going to get me arrested or on some type of neighborhood watch list when we visit the States. I am convinced that our kids' picture is on the wallpaper of hundreds of iPhones across China.

10. I yell at the waitress to bring our bill. This has taken a long time to get used to. I used to passively raise my hand or follow the poor girl around the restaurant. One day I realized that really and truly it's culturally appropriate to yell, "Hey waitress, bring the bill!"

So there you have it. For you and every one to know that I've got real issues here people. Please tell me that people living outside of the US have morphed in similar ways. It really would make me feel better about my current state of living.

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