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Beijing Diary: Expat Life in China Checklist
by Tom McGregor    Wed, Oct 22, 2014, 03:17 AM

BEIJING: Well folks, it's been over five years since I arrived in China on October 22, 2010. Just like most expats, I came with the intent to change China, but discovered that China changed me instead.

This happens to all expats who come and stay in this country for many years. Nevertheless, there are those expats who refuse to believe that China has changed them. So, I've composed a checklist for expats in China; and if you can say, "I agree," to at least 7 out of the 10 Chinese cultural statements, then China has changed you.

Checklist

1. You define food poisoning based solely on fatalities. If the food didn't kill you, then it must be OK.

2. You give career advice to expat newcomers, by saying, "Do the bare minimum of work, play stupid and drink lots of baijiu (Chinese vodka) with your boss and that will put you on the promotion fast-track."

3. You are switching TV channels and can't decide between watching, "PLA Opera: Red China Rising," or the soap opera, "Chairman Mao & Friends."

4. You see a Westerner wearing a hamzat suit outside and you laugh at his foolish appearance, but it still takes you more than 20 minutes to conclude that the guy might be worried about pollution, so you continue laughing, because he's too wimpy.

5. You believe your job duties just entail waiting to do productive work, but not actually doing productive work.

6. You are more shocked when someone speaks the truth and they have evidence to prove it.

7. You have a drinking night and that means outdoor bbq and that's where the sidewalks are your toilet. You don't even bother to look for a proper bathroom.

8. You assume that PLA soldiers patrolling the streets are standing there to give directions to strangers and do nothing else.

9. You are surrounded by a sea of Asian faces, so when you see a Westerner, you think, "Look there's a foreigner; that's a surprise," but you fail to ask yourself, "Wait a minute are people thinking the same about me at that moment?"

10. You visit Hong Kong, but you have traumatic culture shock, since the city is too Westernized. You wish to return to China, asap.

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