Apologies for the lack of posting lately. It seems I have hit a rut in the blog-o-sphere, and I’m not sure what to write about these days. Any requests? What would you like to learn about from living in Wuhan or China in general? Feel free to send any requests or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, or below in the comments and I’d be happy to venture out into Wuhan and find what you’re looking to hear about. More about health? More about Chinese culture? More about life lessons? More about my struggles? What do you want to hear about? I’d love some reader input.
Anyway. On to the post.
Even after living here in China for almost nine months, there are still things I see on a daily basis that make me laugh, make me cringe, or make me want to run back to my glorious Midwest comfort zone. It’s fun though, right? Living in a new country and learning about their methods of coping with daily life is why we make a move across the world. Helps us view the world through a different perspective, and also gives us some appreciation for the little things we took for granted back home.
With that being said, here are a few things that you probably didn’t know about living in China.
In China, we squat. There will be no throne for your bottom, but there will be a lovely ceramic hole in the floor with two grooves for your feet. The method is supposed to be cleaner for your body, and as for public toilets, you’re no longer placing your bums where other bums have sat only moments before, so no more shared butt germs. Yay for that! It’s also the perfect opportunity to work on your balancing skills. I’m quite accustomed to the toilets, but what I still have a hard time with is the trough-style primary school restrooms where teachers and students alike squat and bare it. Not sure I’ll ever stop cringing every time one of my students follows me into the bathroom, and peers into my doorless stall to give me a giggly “Hello” as I take a leak.
Everywhere by everyone. I’ll be walking behind an eighty pound, 20-something, posh woman who is decked out in heels, fur, a mini skirt, hair and makeup done in a model-esque fashion, and she will suddenly rear back and hock a massive loogy on to the street in broad daylight. It’s been socially acceptable to spit whenever and wherever the need strikes, but in recent years it appears Wuhan has been trying to cut back on the spitting in public places, like in malls and businesses, so little signs prohibiting spitting have been popping up in various places. It’s still common to see a little old lady spitting on the subway, train, or market, so watch where you set your purse or bag. No place is safe from the spitters.
Couples, best friends, families, pets and their owners— everybody’s doing it. I asked my friend Sunny about this, wondering why anyone would ever want to wear a matching outfit with their significant other, her answer was simple: “It’s so that everyone knows you are together! We love it!” When I asked her about how her boyfriend felt about it she said, “Well… I think maybe he is not so happy about it, but when I ask he has to say yes.”
Split pants for potting training tots.
Doesn’t matter what time of the year it is in Wuhan, there will always be barely walking babes tottering around with their split pants and jumpsuits pooping on the sidewalks, streets, gardens, and even trashcans as their grandma or grandpa stands whistling nearby. They whistle to train their kids to go on command. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the whistling old lady holding her child over a trashcan in the mall, but I suppose they’re doing the environment a favor by not using diapers.
One day, after having taught nine hours in the blistering heat, I was excited to see an open seat on the subway. I
collapsed into the cool metal of the bench, and plugged my earphones in, prepping for the twenty minute ride back home. I was enjoying the rare occurrence of having my own seat for about five minutes, until we pulled up to the next stop where a portly woman decided that the six inches of space between me and the next passenger was enough space for her to settle her twelve inch buttocks. The other six inches sat directly on my lap. I, feeling stubborn and exhausted, sat my ground, and two stops later the person on my left stood up to get off, and my lap mate’s husband squeezed his self into our comfy little three way. Personal space in China is a luxury. Getting sat on is just a part of the daily grind.
Open mouthed eating.
This is something I still have a hard time not fixating on, but 90% of the population here not only eats with their mouth open, but also eats loudly to show appreciation for the meal they are having. It’ll be strange going home in December and being surrounded by people who eat with the Western manners— mouth closed, no slurping, slow bites, quiet. Hopefully I haven’t unconsciously picked up any of these habits, but I’m sure my family will have no problem pointing it out if I have come Christmastime.