The longer you live here, the more China starts seeping into everything you do. Here are 46 signs that your time in China is changing you.
2. Cherry tomatoes and canned peaches are starting to look like reasonable birthday cake toppings.
3. Bunny ears, feather masks, and strobe lights are starting to look like reasonable Christmas decorations.
4. You’re truly fine with no ice in your drink.
5. When meeting someone new, you don’t shake hands, and you don’t expect to learn their name or tell them yours.
6. But you will probably add each other on WeChat.
7. Trains make you think of instant noodles.
8. You cringe when you have to walk across carpet in your shoes.
9. When you’re riding inside a vehicle, you have a strong urge to crack open the window “to improve air flow” no matter the weather.
10. Showering at night just seems right.
11. You fill other people’s cups before your own and put food in other people’s dishes.
12. When you’re invited over to someone’s house for dinner, you bring a big bag of fruit.
13. When you go with friends on a short hike, you bring along enough snacks for a week.
14. Tipping seems like a ridiculous concept.
15. So does the practice of buying all your groceries a week at a time.
16. You don’t hug.
17. Seeing a skinned rabbit at the market makes you admire the stall’s impressive selection of meats.
18. Packaged meat and fruit make you suspicious.
19. You do want the fatty meat.
20. And the fish cheek.
21. Umbrellas make you think of sunny days, and sunny days make you think of doing laundry.
22. You know which animal this year is, and you know which one is coming up next, all without checking Baidu.
23. You balk at paying an extra five mao for cabbage.
24. You agree that ping pong is a real sport.
25. Toothpaste flavors back home seem really limited and uncreative.
26. So do pizza toppings.
27. You honestly prefer a squatty in public restrooms.
28. Red beans make you think of dessert; cinnamon makes you think of medicine; dates make you think of soup.
29. You can quickly assess the important differences between three different fake iPhones.
30. You have used the phrase “5000 years of history” in a non-sarcastic way.
31. When the food comes and it looks just like it did in the menu, you’re surprised.
32. During the battle to pay the bill, you know how to fight dirty.
33. You can use red plastic twine to fix just as many things as duct tape.
34. Shanxi and Shaanxi are clearly two different places.
35. When a friend asks if you’re free for lunch a week from today, you think, “How am I supposed to know my schedule that far in advance?”
36. Based only on hearing the name of the province someone is from, you can already accurately guess what ethnicity they are, what language they speak, and how they feel about spicy food.
37. Traveling with a tour group does seem like it would save a lot of mafan.
38. You can’t remember a good English equivalent for mafan.
39. While standing on the bus, you no longer get upset when a stranger leans on you.
40. Sometimes you’re the one leaning.
41 You point to your nose when indicating yourself.
42. You stare at other foreigners.
43. You don’t assume the toddler with a shaved head is a boy.
44. You don’t assume the old man walking down the sidewalk with sparkly Gucci sunglasses and a hot pink shirt is trying to be “flamboyant.”
45. While traveling to a different part of China and someone asks where you’re from, you tell them the name of the province you live in.
46. Because, for at least part of your soul, China is home.