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I know why foreigners are weird

Popularity 24Viewed 4466 times 2014-4-21 15:55 |System category:Life| foreigners, different, weird, students


I’ve often wondered why the Chinese like to stare at us. Maybe it’s because we look different, dress different. However, in addition to our differences in appearance, based on personal observations, I here will discuss some other reasons why the Chinese think we’re weird.


1) We’re really loud and obnoxious

We travel in large packs, laugh and talk loudly. On the subway, in taxis, we don’t stop talking, and we do it loudly. The Chinese have a quiet conversation or watch movies on their phones.


2) We’re amazed by a lot of things

Seriously, even the smallest things faze us. And what do we do? We whip out our phones and take pictures of every angle while going oooooh ahhhhh and discussing it loudly with our friends.


3) We speak funny Chinese

Most of us are still learning Chinese and our tones and grammar are not 100% perfect. We may accidentally say wrong things by using the wrong tones, and may end up waving our hands around in desperate measures in trying to get people to understand what we are trying to say.


Or we might try to say a word and realize that it might not be the right tone, and end repeating the sound with different tones in hopes of getting the right one.


“Today my presentation will be about Xiong1mao3??? (chest hair) Hmmm Xiong1mao2??? (chest hat) Oooohhhhh Xiong2mao1 (PANDA)!!!”


 Often when I learn a new word, I repeat the word over and over again out loud. Like the time I had no idea what packing tape was in Chinese. I kept on holding up a parcel and repeatedly saying “Tie”? (to stick) to the salespeople until I learned that it’s called “Tou ming jiao” (transparent plastic).


4) Our clueless expressions and reactions are really amusing

Sometimes the Chinese speak too fast for us, or they say a word that we don’t recognize. We’ll start to look really confused and end up stuttering and start waving out hands around (see number 3) or ask our foreign friends in our mother tongue in desperate measures. I’ve seen this happen many times (and I do the same thing too), and I agree it is pretty amusing from a Chinese’s point of view.


Don’t get me wrong, as a foreigner, I think other foreigners are interesting and we all have reasons why we are here in China. We all chose to be here, and although it may sometimes be a disadvantage to be a foreigner and not know the language and the area well, each of us are learning to assimilate and grow in a culture and environment that is completely different than our own.  

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Comment Comment (39 comments)

Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2014-4-21 19:32
Yes .. Let's face it, we are WEIRD!  
Reply Report vivndodo 2014-4-21 22:12
Actually, if i ever stare at a foreigner i usually think she or he is good-looking haha
Reply Report voice_cd 2014-4-22 09:42
Thanks for sharing your story here, we have highlighted your blog.
Reply Report Azindoo 2014-4-22 12:22
Ys we are likewise are they. Being weird means someone  is outgoing ,he is trying to ease some pressure too.
Reply Report Incedius420 2014-4-22 14:16
foreigners are loud and obnoxious?  The Chinese have a quiet conversation?  

I dont think this person has ever been to china.
Reply Report TheMakerzBiz 2014-4-22 14:33
China is way, way louder than my Motherland. Honestly, in my Motherland, it's considered rude to have a phone conversation in a crowded public area, like a bus or a restaurant. Here, the person talks so loud it's as if they prefer everyone to hear! The only benefit of the loud, obnoxious phone-etiquette is I can practice my oral comprehension.

The line about being "loud" as a "foreign" trait runs 100% against my couple year experience. I am curious which part of China the author lives in or is talking about?
Reply Report 财神 2014-4-22 15:44
take it easily. if anyone goes to another community then it would be surely new and weird, no need to take that much oddly. but its interesting to be a weird in this society.
Reply Report jsylam 2014-4-22 15:49
TheMakerzBiz: China is way, way louder than my Motherland. Honestly, in my Motherland, it's considered rude to have a phone conversation in a crowded public area, l ...
Hi TheMakerzBiz! Thanks for your comment! I am merely lightheartedly poking fun at us foreigners and this blog is not meant to be serious. The points I mention are not 100% true but based on my point of view and my experiences.

Yes I have been to and around some places in China (Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Xi'an, smaller places like Tong Lu, Xi tang, also Hong Kong, Macau) and I do know it is very loud, especially in restaurants to a point where you have to yell to to speak to the person next to you.   

And yes, not all foreigners are loud, but some are and I've seen Chinese look at foreigners for being loud on the subway (and it's usually really quiet!). We've had taxi drivers tell us to speak less and quiet down in exasperation.
Reply Report jsylam 2014-4-22 16:02
财神: take it easily. if anyone goes to another community then it would be surely new and weird, no need to take that much oddly. but its interesting to be  ...
Thanks for the comment, yes that is true, as pointed in in my last paragraph. I use "weird" here in a a fun, positive and lighthearted way. By no means am I using it in any other way.
Reply Report Ratfink 2014-4-22 16:06
Speak for yourself, I don't travel in large groups, Never make weird noises and yes spoken Chinese can be to fast for me to hear clearly plus some dialects are nearly impossible for the Western ear to understand without living in a city for a long time.

I most assuredly am not loud or obnoxious. I guess the OP is a North American and a kid :lol
Reply Report HailChina! 2014-4-22 18:24
I think it is important that westerners do not take ourselves too seriously and this blog entry is a good example of the type of cultural humility that we need from us westerners moving in to the Asian Century.
Reply Report jsylam 2014-4-22 18:51
HailChina!: I think it is important that westerners do not take ourselves too seriously and this blog entry is a good example of the type of cultural humility tha ...
amen!
Reply Report futsanglung 2014-4-22 19:53
You say Westerners take loads of pics, at least we can take them of just the scenery, Chinese people only take pics of people standing in front of the scenery holding silly poses, you say you are in Shanghai, well have a walk along the Bund to see what I mean
Reply Report bigbull 2014-4-23 03:29
Incedius420: foreigners are loud and obnoxious?  The Chinese have a quiet conversation?  

I dont think this person has ever been to china.
This one point I also totally disagree with, if the writer has been to china before he wouldn't make such point.
Reply Report bigbull 2014-4-23 03:31
Chinese are more wired than foreigners!
Reply Report claudeckenni 2014-4-23 14:51
Can't agree more with you. It's always fun living in China because i learned a lot of new things everyday! =)
Reply Report claudeckenni 2014-4-23 14:53
bigbull: This one point I also totally disagree with, if the writer has been to china before he wouldn't make such point.
Maybe he has been to China, but haven't seen everything yet. In the place where I live now, Chinese are always noisy 24/7, hahaha. But still, I agree with some of his points.
Reply Report jsylam 2014-4-23 15:28
claudeckenni: Maybe he has been to China, but haven't seen everything yet. In the place where I live now, Chinese are always noisy 24/7, hahaha. But still, I agree  ...
true! i haven't seen everything, that's why i'm here, i feel like I learn exponentially more than if I stayed in my home country.
Reply Report AlexisFW85 2014-4-23 16:30
Been weird my whole life, even before moving abroad, and not expecting to change anytime soon!  
Reply Report seanboyce88 2014-4-23 21:00
Haha, yeah I think all foreigners are different, you have made the mistake of treating us one nation of people. I would never get my camera out and take pictures of random things, nor talk loudly as it's just not what I do.

fun blog though and I do realise you are just poking fun :p

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jsylam

Jessica is a Chinese language student and has been staying in Shanghai since February 2014.

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