small town laowai

an Americanish life in backwater China



Illiteracy strikes again

“Mom, this salt is green.” Evan was helping me make dinner, and had just opened a new bag of salt. He was making a weird face as he peered inside. “And it smells like fish.” I grabbed the bag, wondering… Continue Reading →

Americans drive on the left and other truths I’ve learned

Years ago, I was having a conversation with my Malaysian friend, and we started talking about how Malaysia has a lot of British influence. “We drive on the right like they do,” my friend explained. “Wait, what?” I thought I… Continue Reading →

Why it’s so hard to answer the question, “How many times have you moved?”

I’m in the middle of packing up our apartment. Again. In our nearly 17 years of marriage, this will be our 11th move. Or maybe it’s our 14th? No, wait. 18th? Or maybe even 21st? I’ve lost track. I’ve been… Continue Reading →

My hair and China are not on speaking terms

When we moved to China, I knew I’d have to learn a new language, a new culture, and a new toilet. But it never occurred to me that moving to China would affect my hair. Let’s explore the history of… Continue Reading →

Bloomability (Review)

If you’re looking for a great book for a middle-school TCK (third culture kid), you’ve found it. Sharon Creech is already recognized as an outstanding writer and storyteller. She is best known for her award-winning book Walk Two Moons. Bloomability… Continue Reading →

The top 5 questions I get asked on both sides of the Pacific

Chinese people are a curious bunch, and most have no qualms about asking foreigners all the questions that pop into their minds when we wander into their store, restaurant, or taxi. But the questions don’t stop when we leave the… Continue Reading →

Foreigner! Foreigner!

I wrote most of this a couple of months ago, but never quite finished polishing it up ’til now. Enjoy! When I tell people back in the U.S. how much we get stared at, photographed, and shouted at here in… Continue Reading →

Care packages

I’ve already gotten a couple of questions about Christmas care packages for this year, for which I’m grateful. I feel bad because postage is so insanely expensive (it’s about $80 for the larger flat rate box, like the one in… Continue Reading →

50 signs you’re an American expat in China

There’s fifty nifty U-ni-ted States, and 50 ways to tell you’re from one of them.

Adopting from U.S. foster care while living abroad

May is National Foster Care Month in the U.S.! I know several expat families here in China who have considered adoption, but have gotten stuck because it seems too difficult, or too costly, while living overseas. If you are considering… Continue Reading →

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