The other day I was crossing the street and I said “You people invented gunpowder and silk! Surely mastering a turn signal is nothing to that!”
Usually shouting witticisms at my non-English speaking surroundings makes me feel better, but today I was sad because I’m trying not have the “you people” attitude. It’s really hard to avoid, though. I feel like my students are complex individuals but as for the rest of China, sometimes I feel like I’m in some dystopian sci-fi novel where everyone wears the same clothes, does the same things, says the same things and even thinks the same thoughts. There’s a level of predictability and sameness in Chinese behavior that I simply cannot describe properly for Americans.
China is like a pre-teen nightmare, full of giggling packs of girls who mimic everything I do, giggle, and then say “ting bu dong” (hears but can’t understand) and giggle some more. Then I say this:
Actually, I DO understand you. Hello.
No, I’m not German. I’m American.
No, I’m not a student, I’m an English teacher.
Yes, I do look quite young, but honestly, I’m 26 by your calendar.
Why, thank you for saying my Chinese is very good, but honestly I’m only good at this one conversation because ONE-POINT-FOUR BILLION people ask me the SAME THINGS!
But as I’m writing this, my boss, Will, is singing “one little, two little, three little Meggies, four little, five little, six little Meggies…”. I mean, it’s not exactly Stick and “Fat Bottomed Megs” but it’s still making China feel more like home.