small town laowai

an Americanish life in backwater China


faux pas

Stop with the Thank Yous!

Have you ever been going merrily along in the language you’ve been learning only to hit a big bump when you discover that a word you’ve been using for forever doesn’t mean what you thought it meant? That happened to… 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 →

The Grace to be a Good Idiot

It’s never easy to hold your tongue when you’re being insulted. It’s even harder when it’s a hot, humid, bad China day and you’re being insulted unfairly because of your curtains. How do you find the grace to be a… Continue Reading →

Flipping switches

I wish there was just one big button to press. “Activate China Mode!” And it would be done. I would instantly fit in perfectly here. My brain would switch to Mandarin, my digestive system would immediately be used to handling… Continue Reading →

Insulting the elderly (Taking Route)

The swell gals over at Taking Route have been running a series called “31 Tips for Surviving (Not Crying) in a New Country.” This month, they and guest contributors are sharing all kinds of humorous tales of language and culture… Continue Reading →

8 things Americans do that my Chinese friends find repulsive

With all the nose-picking, loogie-hocking, and public urinating that my Chinese friends and neighbors do, it’s easy to identify habits they have that I find disgusting. It’s been eye-opening for me to discover that we have some habits that disgust… Continue Reading →

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