Things you’ll hear a lot of as a foreigner in China

I know, It’s been a while. I actually don’t know how long it’s been exactly… but it’s been a while.

Writing a blog when you’re part of the Chinese education system ends up feeling more like a chore than a way to relax ; even more so when the way you prefer to relax is to huddle up in the warmth of your bed and sleep. Right now however, I’m feeling a bit of fun coming on.

Jiujiang gets cold in the winter — as we were warned continuously. My British roots refused to accept that fact. You’re telling a foreign girl who decided to brave the English winter at school in only trousers and a polo shirt to ‘wear more clothes’? I think not good sir!

Unfortunately the Chinese were right. I did buy a coat. A very nice coat in fact. My wonderful half — Waiban Jiang also left a cheeky comment on my WeChat once I’d announced to the Motherland that I was wrong.

Going back to the ‘wear more clothes’ saying, there are many things here in China that you’re told many many times by Chinese people as a foreigner. Here are just a few.

Wear More Clothes
So let’s start off with the first one — wearing more clothes. Here down south it seems people are not aware of the fact that thermal vests and trousers exist. Even though they sell them…and I was told to wear them. When rehearsing Christmas songs with the Thai exchange students Jiang told me I needed leggings and made all the Thai student do a semi strip tease by pulling up their trousers and showing off their thermal leggings. The whole point of wearing them is so that you stay warm, yet you continuously here people telling you to wear more clothes. They prefer to layer their clothing here. I swear the students in my classes were wearing at least five layers each — explaining why the jackets are so big! They also don’t like to turn the heating on. It’s bad for your health to wonder outside in the cold, then strip all your layers off when you’re back inside in the warm.THIS IS WHAT I DO AT HOME LET ME BE WARM WHEN I’M EATING A BANQUET! PLEASE! I’M WEARING FOUR LAYERS FOR YOU!

Wear Shoes Indoors
“But Abi, I thought in Asia wearing shoes indoors is rude!” It is. Although my Waiban Mary doesn’t know the word for slippers. When our desk officer Dave (DOD) visited a number of teachers showed up to have a meeting with DOD, Juliette and I. This list included: Mary, Jiang, Becky and other officials who I’ve never really met before. They commented that this was the first time volunteers had asked them to take their shoes off at the door (If anyone in England actually wears their shoes around the house please let me know because I have never done this and if you do you may as well be dancing with the devil) and warn house shoes inside. It was getting cold and the summer shoes wouldn’t keep our feet warm for the winter (due to the house having basically no insulation and slabbed flooring) so they were nice enough to give us warm handmade slippers for the winter! Unfortunately, there were many occasions when Mary rung the door bell I was sleeping. When you’re awoken from your deep slumber by a door bell constantly ringing the last thought in your mind is to put your slippers on! So she would always tell me off! “Why are you not wearing your shoes! You’ll get ill if you don’t wear your shoes! Wear more clothes, aren’t you cold?” Explaining that I was just sleeping so I didn’t have time to do those things didn’t stop here relaying the message to Jiang who then lectured Juliette who then had to tell me. This has probably happened about four to five times now.

Drink Hot Water
Seriously. Drink hot water. I’ve actually become quite partial to drinking hot water. We boil our water here because it’s not exactly England’s water system over here. This may be a habit I keep when I go back to England. If you’re ill then drink hot water and never, I repeat never drink cold water in winter. You may accidentally blow someone’s mind. It’s not good for your health!

Don’t Eat Spicy Food
If you eat spicy food apparently you’ll get spots/acne. According to people here it’s a cause and the solution to get rid of them is to stop eating spicy food! Good thing I’m bad with spice!

Don’t Eat Oily Food
If you’re ill your Doctor will tell you this, along with the spice. Which is surprisingly difficult over here because most meals are drenched in oil when you eat out. We’ve only got one electric stove, a pot and a wok to cook with, so it’s boiled or nothing when you’re ill!

It’s Good For Your Healthy
OK. My favourite. I’m pretty sure we say this more than the Chinese do. All of the above points are ‘good for your healthy’ so we often say this whenever we face problems. Sometimes you’ll hear “You must drink more hot water, it’s good for your healthy!” and we’ve adopted this wonderful phrase into our daily vocabulary. For example “I just cannot control this class!” “You should drink more hot water — it’s good for your healthy” because hot water can solve everything!

Honestly though, everything here is always said with a good heart. They’re big on staying healthy here in china and asking or saying these things is just a polite way of greeting someone, similar to “Have you eaten?”. Don’t take this the wrong way, I think it’s cute and funny how these are said so often.

Bonus! Questions about China:
Do you like China?
Do you like Chinese food?
Do you like China
Do you like delicious food?
Do you like China?
Can you speak Chinese?
DO YOU LIKE CHINA?

No Why.
Why have I written no why? No why.

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