small town laowai

an Americanish life in backwater China


By the Numbers

10 Things Ya Gotta Love About Chinese New Year

It’s the biggest human migration in the world to celebrate the biggest holiday of the year. Sure, there are lots of annoyances, but let’s think positive. Here are ten things that are great about Spring Festival. 1. Everyone is happy…. Continue Reading →

The 10 Craziest Questions I’ve Been Asked in China

Being white in China, especially in off-the-beaten path areas of China, seems to make it fair game for any stranger to ask you any question about America. This can sometimes be awkward or weird, especially if you are a white… Continue Reading →

50 Smells You Can’t Forget if You’ve Lived in China

They say smell is the sense most closely tied to memory. If I could make your screen scratch-n-sniff, I would, and you’d be instantly transported back to the Middle Kingdom. Chou doufu Mosquito coils Getting caught in a cloud of… Continue Reading →

Are They All Yours?

Early on in my Mandarin studies, I learned the word 都 dōu. Although it can mean “both”’ the meaning that stuck firmly in my head was “all”’ as in: “All the Americans in Nanning love to play Ultimate.” “All of… Continue Reading →

While You Were Out, These 15 Things Exploded in the U.S.

At some point or another, American expats come home. When you do, you’ll face some level of reverse culture shock as you try to figure out how your country has changed while you’ve been off galavanting around the globe (not… Continue Reading →

8 Ways China is More Environmentally Friendly Than the U.S.

Any expat who lives in China can easily rattle off the ways China is harming Mother Earth. (air quality index, anyone?) But there are also plenty of ways that the laobaixing incorporate environmentally friendly habits into their everyday lives, even… Continue Reading →

9 Preschool Safety Tips from Chinese Youeryuan

I was sorting through a box of old books and happened upon some of the workbooks my kids used in youeryuan (Chinese preschool). One of the books was called Safety Education. It teaches kids some basic safety tips with illustrations… Continue Reading →

8 Foods You Never Knew You Could Make from Scratch in China

When we first moved to China oodles of years ago, it felt like all my cooking skills evaporated. Or rather, that everything I had learned to cook so far in my life was no longer applicable in the new culinary… Continue Reading →

9 Ways China Expats Offend on U.S. Soil

I try to remember how to act American, I really do. But so much of behavior runs on a subconscious autopilot setting, and mine stays set to “China mode” even after landing in the States. Yours, too? It takes a… Continue Reading →

8 Observations about the First 5 Hours in America

Like many American expats, June is the month our family boarded a plane back to the U.S. It’s always surreal to arrive back in the Land of the Free and Home of the Big Gulp. And there’s nothing like the… Continue Reading →

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