Strangers in a Strange Land Strangers in a Strange Land
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It's easy to feel outnumbered in a country of 1 billion people, especially for non-natives. But more and more foreigners are finding ways to make China feel like home.
Any funny stories?A Chinese girl was walking past me and muttered a strangely straightforward phrase in Chinese: "Wow, there are a lot of black people in this country now." So I turned around and yelled back to her "Yeah, there are a lot of black people in this country now ... and they speak Chinese, too."What do you miss most?I miss buying deodorant for cheap. Deodorant out here is like seven or eight bucks a pop.How much do you hang out with other expats?Half and half. I don't really count. I think I'm mostly around Chinese people. I guess part of that is because I'm married to one. But then again, I think my wife is more American than me and I'm more Chinese than my wife. Go figure.Any plans to come back? I do plan on coming back. But I don't think it will be permanent, or at least not yet.
Why did you move?I wanted to get out of Mississippi, and China is on the other side of the world ... literally. I said to myself, "I'm too smart to be paid by the hour." So I moved to China to earn less than someone living below the poverty level in the U.S.What should people in America know about China?Americans aren't the only ones who are fiercely patriotic. And the number of people learning English in China is larger than the entire population of the United States. Learn Chinese.What do you miss most?I miss my bra collection! I had 79, but my friends only let me bring 14.Any plans to come back?I don't know when I'll move back for good. I haven't been home since I left in 2005. I'm curious to see how much I've changed.
How much do you hang out with other expats?Quite often-they are everywhere in Shanghai now. Really, there's been a dramatic increase in the number of foreign faces you see on the streets in just the short period of time I've lived here.Any plans to come back?You sound like my mom. My wife and I have a standard response when people ask us how long we plan on staying here: indefinitely, but not permanently.
Why did you move?I studied in China during my junior year of college and I was fascinated by the energy and opportunity available to young professionals here. At that point I knew that I would probably need to return to China.Any funny stories?All the Chinese gents at my gym meticulously and publicly blow-dry their pubic hair. I have honestly not been witness to that anywhere else.What should people in America know about China?Whenever people hype China, remember that China is still two-thirds farmers. That means there are roughly 800 million farmers here. That is the real China. Even I don't go to those places.Any plans to come back?I am definitely looking forward to getting back to the U.S. I am pretty sure that I can learn to love eating shitty Chinese food again.
Morgan Alexander Jones (MoJo)age 26
|There are a lot of black people in this country now ... and they speak Chinese, too.|
Sherry Smithage 28
|I moved to China to earn less than someone living below the poverty level in the U.S.|
Mike Mouage 28Where did you move from? New York.How long have you been in China? Five years.What do you do in China?I'm now working as a senior brand manager for an up-and-coming streetwear label called Eno. We are building stores across Mainland China focusing on urban Chinese youth, one of the most fascinating and fastest-growing groups in China. The learning curve is fast and the challenge to create a cool Chinese brand is something that's great to be a part of.Why did you move to China?I've been coming to China since I was a teenager. On my first trip to China, I visited a remote village on the Yangtze River. This was 10 years ago, and there were not as many foreigners here as there are now. I was acting as a translator between the local and tourist groups and it was a great feeling, being this cultural bridge between two worlds. My love just grew from there. Fast forward to 2003, the hype of China's growth and development really attracted me here, from a career standpoint. Also, my ability to speak Chinese and bicultural background couldn't really be leveraged in the U.S. China is a huge, relatively untapped market and developing faster than most Westerners can imagine.Anything else to say?You can't study animals at the zoo; you gotta come to the jungle.
Dan Washburnage 34
|If fluency is your goal, you really need to quit your job and dedicate a chunk of time to being a full-time student of Chinese.|
John Sorrellage 27
Lisa Moviusage 31
Jon Lombardoage 27
|All the Chinese gents at my gym meticulously and publicly blow-dry their pubic hair.|
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