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You've Been In China Too long If...

You know you’ve been in China too long if…

We found versions this list floating around on a couple of China-related forums. If you’d like to claim authorship, contact us and we’ll give you a link.

1. Before asking someone’s age, you ask what animal they are.

2. You start picking at other people’s dinner plates before they even offer you a taste.

3. You eat family style at any and all restaurants, Chinese or not.

4. You would rather wait on the street for an extra ten minutes for a small cab, than pay the extra for a big cab.

5. You don’t have to speak to taxi drivers. Every cab in town has taken you home at least once, so they all know where you live.

6. It seems entirely sensible to take a cab across town for 12 yuan in each direction to buy something that costs 4 yuan, and they sell right outside your house anyway.

7. You have absolutely no sense of traffic rules.

8. You invite friends over for dinner, and serve thousand year old eggs as an appetiser.

9. You buy a round trip air ticket in China.

10. You no longer need tissues to blow your nose.

11. You start calling other foreigners Lao Wai.

12. You think singing Karaoke on Friday nights is fun.

13. Other foreigners seem foreign to you.

14. You consider McDonalds a treat.

15. You ask how much people are making and expect people to answer.

16. You talk louder than is necessary.

17. You are the last of your first group of friends still in China.

18. You prefer using chopsticks.

19. Chinese fashion starts looking hip.

20. You no longer notice the hooting on the streets.

21. You start cutting off large vehicles on your bicycle.

22. Your body no longer needs dairy products.

23. You think Yangshou is a nice place for a holiday.

24. The last time you visited your mother, you gave her your business card

25. You start to enjoy the taste of bai jiu.

26. You go back home for a short visit, get in a car and start giving the driver directions in Chinese.

27. You have to pause and translate your phone number into English before telling it to someone.

28. Your idea of a larger home is an extra 10 square meters.

29. You get used to having a before dinner, during dinner, and after dinner cigarette.

30. You think no car is complete without a tissue box on the rear shelf and a feather duster in the trunk.

31. You go to the local shop in pyjamas.

32. You wouldn’t think of buying any appliance that doesn’t come in lime green.

33. You wonder why none of your friends back home have VCD players

34. You see some real cleavage and think WOW!

35. You ask fellow foreigners the all-important question “How long have you been here?” in order to be able to properly categorize them.

36. You speak putonghua better than the locals.

37. You buy the local newspaper because you forget that you can’t read Chinese.

38. When looking out the window, you think “Wow, so many trees!” instead of “Wow, so much concrete!”

39. You seriously contemplate putting bathroom tiles on the outside of your house back home.

40. You can swear in 3 different dialects.

41. Pollution, what pollution?

42. You think squat toilets are more sensible

43. You notice you’ve forgotten how to tie shoelaces.

44. You start wearing long thermal underwear on October 1st no matter what the temperature is.

45. You stop wearing long thermal underwear on May 1st no matter what the temperature is.

46. You phone an English-speaking laowai friend and somehow can’t bring yourself to get to the point for the first 3 minutes of the conversation.

47. You stop enjoying telling newcomers to China ‘all about China’.

48. You think “English literature major” is a polite way to say peanut brained bimbo.

49. You are not surprised to wake up in the morning and find that the woman who stayed over last night has completely cleaned your apartment, even though you’ll probably never ever meet her again.

50. You develop a liking for corn flavoured ice cream.

51. You think the best part of TV are the commercials.

52. When you think it’s alright to stick your head into a stranger’s apartment to see if anybody’s home.

53. You think that you can impress foreigners by drinking Budweiser.

54. You have run out of snappy comebacks to compliments about your chopstick skills.

55. You think “white pills, blue pills, and pink powder” is an adequate answer to the question “What are you giving me, doctor?”.

56. Someone doesn’t stare at you and you wonder why.

57. 70 degrees F. feels cold.

58. You see three people on a motorcycle and figure there’s room for two more.

59. “Squid” sounds better than “steak”.

60. There are more things strapped to your cycle than you ever put in a car.

61. Looking at a dog makes you hungry.

62. Firecrackers don’t wake you up.

63. Your family stops asking when you’ll be coming back.

64. You don’t mind when your date picks his/her nose in public.

65. You wear out your vehicle’s horn before its brakes.

66. Smoking is one of the dinner courses.

67. You (male) wear white socks with your business suits.

68. You (female) wear socks over your pantyhose in summer.

69. People who knew you when you first arrived don’t recognize you.

70. You speak Chinese to your foreign friends.

71. You buy a top-of-the-line karaoke machine.

72. None of your shoes have laces.

73. Chinese stop you on the street to ask for directions.

74. You leave the plastic on all new purchases.

75. Forks feel funny.

76. The shortest distance between two points involves going through an alley.

77. People who haven’t seen you for months don’t ask where you’ve been.

78. Chinese remakes of Western songs sound better than the originals.

79. The only foreigners who have been here longer than you are buried here.

80. You find yourself saying, “Oh geez, not ANOTHER Year of the Rat!”

81. You get homesick for Chinese food when away from China.

82. It becomes a tradition that at least part of Christmas dinner is stir-fried.

83. Other foreigners give you a funny look when you tell them how long you’ve been here.

84. The Statute of Limitations has expired and you still don’t go home.

85. You realize that smiling and nodding is Chinese body language for, “Go away & leave me alone.”

86. Metal scaffolding at construction sites seems much more dangerous than bamboo scaffolding.

87. The Lunar Calendar ALWAYS takes precedence.

88. Pizza just doesn’t taste right unless there’s corn on it.

89. It’s been at least 18 months since you used the word “tacky” to describe anything.

90. Summers are too short; winters too long.

91. 250cc is a REALLY BIG motorcycle. (You think moving from a 125cc to a 150cc makes you more macho.)

92. All the top-level government officials you befriended for guanxi purposes when you first arrived are retired and living in your country.

93. Eating at ‘Western’ restaurants, you wait until after dessert to drink your soup.

94. Your thumbnail is 2 inches long.

95. After being in an accident, you tell the ambulance driver which hospital to take you to.

96. None of CNN’s “China Experts” have been here as long as you.

97. You salt your fruit.

98. That unopened bottle of XO has aged longer on your living room shelf than it ever did in France.

99. Your company offers you a job in your native land, and includes regular “Home Leave” to China as an incentive.

100. Household furnishings are arranged for optimal feng-shui.

101. You can make elevators go faster by boarding first and taking over the controls.

102. You stop calling the Guinness Book of Records people each time you kill a cockroach.

103. You think of ‘salad’ as diced apples in mayonnaise

104. You don’t recognise a bowl of chicken soup unless there’s feet and a head in it.

105. Your favourite pizza toppings are corn and shrimp.

106. You don’t bother to take the sticker off the lenses of your fake Ray-Bans.

107. In the summer, you roll the legs of your pants up to your knees whenever you sit down.

108. (men) And you roll your shirt up to your nipples.

109. You only wear a suit when you dig ditches or do home repairs.

110. You have a purse and you are male.

111. You walk backwards in the park listening to a transistor radio.

112. You smoke in crowded elevators.

113. You like the smell of the bus.

114. You go to the hospital at the first signs of a cold.

115. You don’t notice your gastrointestinal problems anymore.

116. You draw characters on your hand to make yourself understood.

117. Your handshake is weakening by the day.

118. You would never think of entering your house without first removing your shoes.

119. You can’t put a proper sentence together in your native language.

120. You aren’t aware that one is supposed to pay for software.

121. Drilling on the walls in the wee small hours in the morning is considered acceptable behaviour.

122. You get offended when people admire your chopsticks skills.

123. You compiled a 3-page list of weird English first names that Chinese people of your acquaintance have chosen for themselves.

124. Your collection of business cards has outgrown your flat.

125. You know that leather shoes can grow leaves during the wet season.

126. You use the word “Ayyiieeaaahh” every few sentences to convey surprise, pleasure, pain or anger.

127. You speak enough Chinese to make your colleagues laugh their heads off (attempts with anyone else still only draw blank stares).

128. You and a friend get on a bus, sit at opposite ends of the bus, and continue your conversation by yelling from one end to the other.

129. You get on a bus alone and pretend to have a friend at the other end of the bus!

130. You always get a seat on a bus.

131. You cannot say a number without making the appropriate hand sign.

132. You cannot say “Call me.” without making a pretend phone with your fingers and sticking to your ear.

133. You eat at exactly the same time every day, whether you are hungry or not. Then eat again later when you ARE hungry.

134. You think a pedestrian crossing over the street is ‘beautiful’.

135. You start making lists like this.

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