You Know You’ve Lived in China Too Long When…

I found a group on facebook recently with this topic and it is so funny! Well it probably would be funny for the ones who lived in China. I’ve selected just a few very best ones in my opinion here:

5. You smoke in crowded elevators.
6. All white people look the same to you.
8. You find state-employed retail staff helpful, knowledgeable and friendly.
9. You no longer need tissues to blow your nose.
12. You think that the heavy air actually contains valuable nutrients that you need to stay healthy.
15. It’s OK to throw rubbish, including old fridges, from your 18th-floor window.
16. You believe that pressing the lift button 63 times will make it move faster.
17. You aren’t aware that one is supposed to pay for software.

19. You tell your parents their house back in your home country has bad feng shui.
20. You think that a $7 shirt is a rip-off.
22. You buy an XXXL T-shirt in store when you returned home.
24. You have no reservations about spitting sun flower seeds on the restaurant floor.
25. You think it’s silly to buy a new bike when it’ll get stolen soon and stolen bikes are half the price.
27. You feel cheated if you don’t receive a full head and shoulder massage when getting a haircut.
29. You no longer wait in line, but go immediately to the head of the queue.
30. It becomes exciting to see if you can get on the lift before anyone can get off.
32. You no longer wonder how someone who earns US$ 400.00 per month can drive a Mercedes.
34. You believe everything you read in the local newspaper.
35. You have developed an uncontrollable urge to follow people carrying small flags.
36. You regard it as part of the adventure when the waiter correctly repeats your order and the cook makes something completely different.
37. You are not surprised when three men with a ladder show up to change a light bulb.
38. You look over peopleâ??s shoulder to see what they are reading.
39. You honk your horn at people because they are in your way as you drive down the sidewalk.
41. When shopping at Carrefour some laowai stares you down for catching you looking into his basket while you wonder to yourself what laowai’s eat.
43. You have a pinky fingernail an inch long.
45. You start to watch CCTV9 and feel warm and comforted by the governments great work.
48. When you are able to jump the queue because the idiot laowai left 2 centimeters between themselves and the person in front of them.
49. You have absolutely no sense of traffic rules.
50. You start calling other foreigners Lao Wai.
51. You start cutting off large vehicles on your bicycle.
53. You think no car is complete without a tissue box on the rear shelf and a feather duster in the trunk.
55. When looking out the window, you think “Wow, so many trees!” instead of “Wow, so much concrete!”
57. You think “white pills, blue pills, and pink powder” is an adequate answer to the question “What are you giving me, doctor?”
58. Someone doesn’t stare at you and you wonder why.
59. Firecrackers don’t wake you up.
61. You wear out your vehicle’s horn before its brakes.
63. Forks feel funny.
64. Chinese remakes of Western songs sound better than the originals.
66. You realize that smiling and nodding is Chinese body language for, “Go away; leave me alone.”
70. You think of “salad” as diced apples in mayonnaise
73. Your handshake is weakening by the day.
74. You compiled a 3-page list of weird English first names that Chinese people of your acquaintance have chosen for themselves.
76. You and a friend get on a bus, sit at opposite ends of the bus, and continue your conversation by yelling from one end to the other.
77. You cannot say a number without making the appropriate hand sign.
78. You like the taste of Green Tea and Chivas.
79. You start recognizing the Chinese songs on the radio and sing along to them with the taxi driver.
80. You feel insulted when you enter a restaurant and only three waiters welcome you.

And here are a few more mentioned by other fellows:

  • Your friends can’t understand why you haven’t memorized your QQ
  • Even you start messing up “he” and “she” in English and also don’t get what the big deal is when you do
  • You go to a nightclub and jump on stage, go crazy dancing cos the locals think you are a movie star… and so do you!
  • You eat soup with chopsticks
  • You get on the bus and sleep right away.
  • You can’t decide if you love or hate the country you living in

This list have just grown bigger, although I tried to keep it small. Here are a few more I found:

  • A few shots of Bai jiu don’t even give you a buzz.
  • When someone says ‘snack’, you think: salted cuttlefish.
  • You enjoy wearing flip flops on all occasions.
  • You get your haircut on the sidewalk.
  • You have grown used to the picture quality of pirated VCDs.
  • Badminton and ping pong are your main forms of exercise.
  • People with bright white teeth look frightening to you.
  • You find yourself exiting on a major highway…on your bike.
  • You draw characters on your hand to make yourself understood.
  • You ask people in what animal year they were born.
  • You can’t put a proper sentence together in your native language.
  • You developed an acquired taste for mooncakes.
  • Your building’s security guard is 4 times older than the building itself.
  • Thanks to karaoke, you know who has the most singing talent in your building.
  • You know it is useless to protest when the lady at the supermarket check-out wraps one toothbrush in 6 plastic bags.
  • You learnt to recognise Andy Lau, Leon Lai, Aaron Kwok and Jacky Cheung. AND JACKY CHAN.
  • A PhD in Nuclear Physics fluent in 7 languages irons your socks for a pittance but she is from the Philippines so it’s all right.
  • You use the word “Ayyiieeaaahh” every few sentences to convey surprise, pleasure, pain or anger.
  • You watch an american movie on HBO, with sub-titles, and try to read them.
  • Your work buddy taps you on the shoulder to talk to you, and you say “Bu Yan” (no thank you!) out of habit.
  • You offer to sell your own watch to a $2 Rolex street vendor, to fend him off.
  • When denying someone something they expected or counted on you just say “Sorry” (buhaoyise) with no explaination whatsoever.
  • You have a pet bird…which you walk.
  • When you take a cab, you give play-by-play driving directions to the driver.
  • The footprints on the toilet seat are your own.
  • You stop at the top or bottom of an escalator to plan your day.
  • You rank the decision making abilities of your staff by how long it takes them to reply “Up To You”.
  • You find that it saves time to stand and retrieve your hand luggage while the plane is on final approach.
  • A T-Bone steak with rice sounds just fine.
  • When listening to the pilot prove he cannot speak English, you no longer wonder if he can understand the air traffic controller.
  • You throw your trash out the window of your house, your car or bus you are on.
  • You regularly fumble for five minutes to find 10 jiao despite 10 people waiting in line behind you.
  • You ride around on your bicycle ringing a bell for some unknown f***ing reason.
  • You start telling a story to a new expat friend about the crazy Beijing girl you slept with 6 months ago and he replies that he knows her and she was his girlfriend at the time. Neither of you care.
  • Hookers buy you drinks.
  • You get your first case of bronchitus and you have never smoked a cigarette in your life.
  • The idea of seeing how this place will look at Expo 2010 and the Olympics actually appeals to you.
  • You haven’t cut you finger nails in 8 weeks.
  • In a meeting you say everything will be ‘wonderful’ and give no details.
  • You forget that the other person needs to finish speaking before you can start.
  • In the rain, you spot a vacant taxi which is 10 minutes away and you have already planned how you are going to jump out with great enthusiasm in the road, elbow everyone else trying to claim it, and wave your hands everywhere in a ‘look at me I’m a goal keeper’ kind of fashion.
  • You watch taxi drivers picking their noses whilst stuck in traffic. Instead of feeling disgusted, you actually admire along with them, the length and breadth of the bogie.
  • You see people outside wearing shower caps in the rain, and instead of thinking what a freak, you actually understand the practicality behind it. The same with clipping pegs on your trousers when riding a bike.
  • Your eating manners in restaurants are now totally shot. Elbows on tables and spitting food out onto your plate is now seen as being dead classy.
  • You start picking at other people’s dinner plates before they even offer you a taste.
  • You eat family style at any and all restaurants, Chinese or not.
  • You would rather wait on the street for an extra ten minutes for a 1.20, than pay the extra for a big cab.
  • You ask how much people are making and expect people to answer.
  • You talk louder than is necessary.
  • You think Yangshuo is a nice place for a holiday.
  • You go back home for a short visit, get in a car and start giving the driver directions in Chinese.
  • You have to pause and translate your phone number into English before telling it to someone.
  • You get used to having a before dinner, during dinner, and after dinner cigarette.
  • You wouldn’t think of buying any appliance that doesn’t come in lime green.
  • You ask fellow foreigners the all-important question “How long have you been here?” in order to be able to properly categorize them.
  • You seriously contemplate putting bathroom tiles on the outside of your house back home.
  • You can swear in 3 different dialects.
  • You stop enjoying telling newcomers to China “all about China”.
  • You are not surprised to wake up in the morning and find that the woman who stayed over last night has completely cleaned your apartment, even though you’ll probably never ever meet her again.
  • When you think it’s alright to stick your head into a stranger’s apartment to see if anybody’s home.
  • You see three people on a motorcycle and figure there’s room for two more.
  • Smoking is one of the dinner courses.
  • You speak Chinese to your foreign friends.
  • Chinese stop you on the street to ask for directions.
  • People who haven’t seen you for months don’t ask where you’ve been.
  • Metal scaffolding at construction sites seems much more dangerous than bamboo scaffolding.
  • Pizza just doesn’t taste right unless there’s sweet corn on it.
  • Eating at “Western” restaurants, you wait until after dessert to drink your soup.
  • That unopened bottle of XO has aged longer on your living room shelf than it ever did in France.
  • You can make elevators go faster by boarding first and taking over the controls.
  • You (men) roll your shirt up to your nipples.
  • You have a purse and you are male.
  • You would never think of entering your house without first removing your shoes.
  • You get offended when people admire your chopsticks skills.
  • You cannot say “Call me.” without making a pretend phone with your fingers and sticking to your ear.
  • You think your nose IS kind of big.
  • You forgot the real purpose of the mirrors in the car.
  • You think the head light for the car is only to see the street so it’s more save to switch on the high beam always.
  • You start to enjoy warm beer.
  • You think that Yao Ming is the best basketball player in the NBA.
  • You instinctviely shake out your clothes before wearing to remove any dust from drying on your balcony.
  • You don’t blink an eye when a complete stranger wants to take a photo of
    you with his family.
  • You know the words to all the KTV songs (English and Chinese).
  • When you go back to your own country it feels odd wearing a seatbelt and you think its strange that you cant smoke in a taxi.
  • You start correcting Southerners on their Putonghua.
  • When you can’t imagine a meal without yi wan mi fan! (a bowl of rice).
  • When you go back to your home country and you find it odd that when going out to a restaurant, you don’t have 5 wait staff welcoming you at the same time.
  • You find it strange when everyone’s food at a restaurant is brought out at the same time.
  • You start making lists like this.

I would like say that it would be only fair to mention that some of these quotes are out-of-date already as China is changing tremendously, but it is still funny. And some would apply just to the ones who spent really a great deal of time living in China. Also it seems like some of the quotes would apply just to specific regions of China, like Hong Kong, Beijing and would sound rather uncommon for other regions. Enjoy it!

Your other suggestions are welcomed!


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  1. Buna

    T-iam citit un “posting” intrun “blog” despre limba Turceasca, si am o intrebare despre asta….sper ca ma poti ajuta un pic.

    First of all, I can’t really write in Romanian as I left the country when I was 6 years old.

    I would like to learn Turkish, and I read that you went to language school there? Can you recommend a school where I could go for maybe 2 – 3 weeks?

    Also, if I wanted to study, say 2 hours a week, how long will it take me to be able to communicate on a basic level?

    Thanks for your help.


    P.S: How come you travel so much in China? (Prieteni mei din Romania isi bateau joc de mine, cand le ziceam despre China, so that they started saying that all things that are cheap and are not working are “o chinezerie”. Silly.

  2. Salut Andrei!

    No problem, will answer your question in English, but your Romanian is still good!

    The best school for learning Turkish in Turkey is considered TOMER from Ankara University. TOMER is the generic name for the centers for studying turkish affiliated to specific universities. There are TOMER’s in almost any major city in Turkey (Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Bursa, Kayseri, Eskisehir, etc). I went myself to three different ones and choosed the Ankara University TOMER’s branch in Istanbul, it is better known as “Sisli TOMER”.

    So, if you’re in Istanbul, Sisli TOMER is the best place to go, just beware of other private language school located in the same area and bearing the same name, the original one is a branch of Ankara University. 2-3 weeks is not enough if you want a result out of it, I would say 2 months at least. And if you can afford to spend just 2 hours a week – I think it might take you anywhere between let’s say two months and one year to get to the basic level. It will depend on your own learning skills and either you communicate outside of school the rest of the time.
    Anyway, wish you good luck with that and if you’ve got any other questions, just message me.

    P.S.: In fact I’m in China right now, and… so many people, not just in Romania imagine that all the people in China are driving bicycles and dressed as peasants, it’s just the image of China to the world. Probably will change after the Olympics. And about “chinezerie” – you get what you paid for!

  3. this article was a lot with funny, i hardly aware of this until i reas it. there are lots of expats in China that know Chinese well, and they more and more like a traditional Chinese, sometises i just admire them for they can easily get a job in China and live a better life than most of the Chinese. but i do not know why Chinese people live such a image on the other people in the world, that is the Chinese people dressed like a pesants, cas there 2/3 people in China are peasants.

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