Tuesday, October 25, 2011

An Average Day in the Life of an American Living in China

Apparently, I wrote this post sometime in late June and just never posted it. I figure that's silly, and that I should totally post it now even though it's been months since China because I haven't posted enough about China yet. And that really, is just silly.

I may have been feeling a little homesick and bitter when I wrote this, but really, this is pretty much what every day was like in China. Really. 

An Average Day in the Life of an American Living in China 
Wake up to something other than your alarm clock. Yesterday, chickens were involved, even though you live in the city. Today, it’ll probably be construction workers. Tomorrow, honking car horns on a road which wasn’t there three days ago.

Get online. Wonder why the internet is so obnoxiously slow in such an international city. 

Take a shower while you wait for gmail to load. 

Try reading CNN online. It was still banned yesterday but maybe today… Nope. Still banned. 

Look in the mirror. Consider doing your make up. Don’t because you know you’ll sweat it off in about ten minutes.  

Check gmail again. Wonder why you did this because it’ll take a year. Feel committed to checking it now because you feel the need to be able to respond to emails within moments of getting them. 

Eventually decide to go wherever you need to be – class, work, a tourist site, whatever. 

Get on the subway. Wonder what the people around you are talking about. 

Be stared at. Say hello to someone in Chinese. Get stared at harder. 

Get Starbucks, even though the price is 30% higher than it is in the states. Refuse to care because it’s the only place you can get coffee. 

Walk by a fake Apple store. Be amused by the disco balls/colored posters/pink lettering/whatever that would never exist in a real Apple store.  Wonder how long it’ll be until this Apple store is busted. Wish you’d thought to document all the fake Apple stores you knew about in China before that other person did and got wildly famous. 

Stop inside to check gmail again. Hope the internet will be faster in the “Apple” store. Nope. 

Try reading the Atlantic for news. Nope, it’s banned now. So is Google, for today at least. 

When you leave, walk by someone who takes a photo of you for no apparent reason. Remember that it really is because you’re white and some people have never seen a white person before. 

Feel self-conscious. 

Get stared at by every Chinese person you walk by. 

Feel wildly self-conscious. 

Wander around for a while trying to figure out what you're looking at. 

Be drenched in sweat an hour after you left your place because it is just that killing puppies hot. 

Take a few photos of something. Notice someone simultaneously taking photos of you. 

Wonder what everyone around you is talking about. Check to make sure that your pants aren’t unzipped/shirt isn’t ripped or stained/hair isn’t a mess. 

Feel seriously ridiculously wildly self-conscious. 

Run into another American/Westerner. This will go one of three ways:

1) You will both be thrilled to find someone who speaks English well and will end up chatting for an hour.
2) You will share a smug smile and a nod as if you’re saying, “I know, I can function on my own in China too. Just look at me without my map.”
3) The other American/Westerner will ignore you entirely because Americans/Westerners suffer from this weird need to be the only white person in a crowd and thus hate it when you infringe on this, Imeangodforbid.

This mostly goes the third way. Decide you hate Americans/Westerners a little more every time. 

Scratch that. We’re uppity but dammit you can’t wait to go home and have a burger. 

Go back to your apartment. Shower. 

Check gmail again. Think you should have opened it before you got in the shower. 

Consider doing your makeup again. Laugh at your reflection in the mirror instead. 

Meet up with a few friends. Try to ignore how much more people stare now that some Westerners are moving in a pack. 

Pose for a few photos taken by strangers. 

Eat Chinese food. Here, it’s not just food – it’s Shanghainese food, or Taiwanese food, or Hunan food, or omfgsospicywhatthehell food. Genuinely enjoy it. Seriously look forward to a good burger. 

Wonder what people around you are talking about. 

Get stared at while you eat. 

Wonder what the people staring at you are talking about. 

Feel the absolutely most wildly self-conscious you've ever felt in your whole entire life.  

Go home. Check gmail. 

Consider taking another shower. Don’t, because you’ll just get sweaty at night. 

Go to bed.


  1. Hi! I'm your blogger swap partner :)

    I have a friend who spent a year in China and she regaled me with so many similar stores. Also, how nightmarish some of the toilets are. Hopefully you avoided most of those ;-)

  2. amazing post!

    "Take a shower while you wait for gmail to load" hahah



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