True Confessions of a Laowai (A.K.A. Foreigner in China)
The following are humorous situations that actually occurred while I was living or traveling around China.
1. My most embarrassing moment: While trying to introduce my 60 freshmen students to various American actors and actresses, I mistakenly turned to the sex scene of a Tom Cruise movie.
2. Someone told me that teaching English in China makes you important but not important at the same time. What that means is that you think you are there to improve people’s English but the school wants to save face by using your employment as an advertisement to attract more students. The same goes for attending parties, getting asked to teach English in your spare time and various other situations where you find yourself the only foreigner in a room full of Chinese.
3. Conversed (in Mandarin) with Chinese who never once looked at me but instead at my companions who were not a part of the conversation.
4. Invited friends over for “porridge” instead of “Western food” (spaghetti).
5. Conversation with a student who never attended class: “Hi, how are you?” Reply: “How are you?” He may have been the university basketball star but he didn’t pass my class.
6. Endured Chinglish (English with Chinese grammar) like this: “I want to play with my boyfriend this weekend” from my students.
7. Joined an Australian wife eating bugs and watched her husband’s priceless reaction.
8. Made shocking statements in class like “Tom and Jerry are not Disney” and “There are a lot of poor people in America too”.
9. Watched people’s reactions as they tried to push their way into a crowded elevator. My baby’s stroller was taking up the extra space they thought we had. Some people are insistent.
10. Walked into restaurants and pointed at other people’s dishes to order our dinner.
11. Played badminton with students and a broken racket flew over the wall leaving a student holding the handle.
12. First time I heard the song ‘Yesterday Once More’ I honestly answered that I didn’t know the song. By the time I left China I had memorized every word.
13. Saw a self-proclaimed 24/7 convenience store in our complex that closed at midnight and was still not open at 7 a.m.
14. Ate what I thought was a grape that turned out to be a Sichuan pepper. Found out why they should never be eaten.
15. Scared a man, not my fiancé, and myself by climbing up the ladder to my bed on an overnight bus after a bathroom stop in the middle of the night. Turns out I had entered the wrong bus.
16. Even after five years in China I had to repeatedly answer the question about how I knew Mandarin so well (I took two years in college) and how I could use chopsticks so well (I grew up in Hawaii with many Asian restaurants).
17. Birthday parties in restaurants sometimes ended in gigantic messes with frosting everywhere (including our faces and hair) and no one actually eating the cake.
18. In the land of the one child family policy (China) we answered the question “How many children do you want?” with “Twelve” at our Chinese wedding banquet as a joke.
19. At tourist spots a fellow traveler would tell Chinese tourists that the handsome young man we were with was a movie star.
20. On a flight between two cities read an in-flight magazine customer satisfaction survey. It asked for your e-male.