I’ve been in Beijing, China for about seven months now. I’m leaving in about two months. (Oh I should probably say I’m American, but I look like an Asian because my dad is Bangladeshi and my mom is Chinese).
Yes. Of course I experienced a culture shock when I arrived in China. The first week was, to be unoriginal, overwhelming. Even though I look semi-chinese-ish, people around me could still smell something foreign on me. Literally, someone actually sniffed me. Anyway, I would walk the streets thinking what a disgusting place Beijing was, yet somehow knowing that I would come to love it all the same. I saw guy casually peeing in the street then just as casually zip his fly like nothing happened.
Though, in the greater scheme of things, those first days were anomalies. First of all, the color of the sky. When I looked directly upwards, the sky was perfectly blue. I have to admit though, when my eyes traced their way back down to the tips of the skyscrapers, the sky became a dull gray sort of color – like a painter ran out of paint and tried to stretch the paint to reach the edges of the canvas. In those days, I walked a certain foreigner way or maybe I had some sort of foreigner mannerisms or sense of fashion (I should probably say “lack thereof”). I think I probably looked like a newborn baby – just staring at everything in awe and metaphorically wailing because of all of the new pungent smells that were invading my nostrils.
I hate to say it now, but I’m already, for the most part, accustomed to all of those things about China. I saw a male baby yesterday on his mothers lap, peeing in a nice wide arch onto the sidewalk. And I walked on by like nothing was wrong. A couple of days ago, three people did the hacking spitting thing directly in front of my shoe and I didn’t even take a step back. I didn’t even flinch. [“Hacking spitting thing” = someone makes these disgusting clack clack noises at the back of their throat to get the spit out.]
There is, however, one thing that I’m positive I will never get used to. That is, seeing other foreigners. It might be really obvious to say, but there are just so many Chinese people in Beijing. You’re probably thinking something along the lines of “NO DUH!” When I see another foreigner I kind of become hyperaware of them and try and guess what they are doing in Beijing. I then try and determine what country their from. And then I start wishing that I looked a little less Chinese so that they can notice me too and then we can start talking. As you probably noticed, I daydream.